Md. vet stresses pet summer safety as weather heats up

As the District springs into warmer summer months, veterinarians are sending a friendly reminder about preparing pets for the hot weather ahead.

“If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them,” said Dr. Peter Eeg, a veterinarian at Poolesville Veterinary Clinic in Maryland.

Eeg said late spring is a good time for pet owners to refamiliarize themselves with summer safety tips for pets. His first recommendation: cutting back on outdoor walks, especially for larger dogs with heavier coats.

“Avoid midday,” Eeg said. “Try to go early in the morning or late in the evening.”

Also, check the concrete before strolling on the sidewalk. If it’s too hot, take to the grass.

“Take the back of your hand and put it down on the surface and leave it there for about seven to 10 seconds,” Eeg said. “If it’s too hot for the back of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s feet.”

Another summer safety tip: add hydration.

“With our older pets, we recommend putting a little extra water in their food, so they’re getting a little more water each day,” Eeg said.

He said pet owners should also offer fresh water as often as possible, especially during walks. Aim for water breaks every 10 to 20 minutes while outdoors, Eeg said.

For pet owners who venture to dog parks, stay away from community water.

“You just never know who’s been drinking out of that water,” Eeg said. “So, always bring your own water.”

Michelle Riley’s two 11-year-old pugs, Oscar and Ollie, are Eeg’s patients.

One of her biggest concerns about the summer are the pests hotter weather brings. The mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can carry dangerous heartworms.

“I keep my dogs on preventative all year round,” Riley said. “But if you’re the type of pet owner that only does it in certain months, summer is absolutely the time of year when you want to make sure your dog is prevented against those types of things.”

In the hotter weather, a major warning from veterinarians stems from an uptick in potential heat strokes.

The Poolesville veterinarian’s strongest warning comes with heat strokes in dogs and cats. Symptoms include excessive panting, a dark or bright red tongue, lethargy and vomiting. Eeg said pet owners who see those signs should get help immediately as the condition can lead to brain damage.

“They will start to pant heavily. They’re laying down. They won’t get up,” he said. “They are in deep trouble. Get them out of the sunshine and apply cool water. Then immediately take them to your veterinarian.”

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