5 summertime tips for a pet-safe season

This content was written by Dr. Janet Weistock, a veterinarian at Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital.

As the weather gets hotter, why not take the opportunity to get your pets (and yourself) outside. More activity is great for your furry friend, but there are some precautions and things to be aware of during the warmer temperatures.

  1. Keep cool. Be aware of the outside temperatures and humidity as our pets can overheat just like we can. Animals will not always stop playing just because they get hot, so it is up to us pet parents to monitor them and prevent overheating. The normal temperature for dogs is 100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your pet’s temperature (taken rectally) is over 104, start to cool them down by wetting them with cool water, then get them to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible. Also, do not leave your dog in a car unattended. The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20 minutes, it can rise almost 30º F and at 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle! Your car can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn’t seem hot to you. And cracking the windows makes no difference.
  2. Stay hydrated. Keeping your pet hydrated is important in hot weather, but you don’t want them ingesting large quantities of water at one time, so give them small amounts more frequently when they’re outside.
  3. Watch the rays. Be cautious of sun exposure, especially if you have a thin haired dog (or cat), as white coats and pink noses can sunburn easier then darker colored pets. There are sunscreen products that are made for pets as well as UV protected pet clothing. Some baby sunscreens may be ok to use on your dog, but don’t use ones that have ingestion warnings or zinc as they could be toxic.
  4. Swim safely. If your pets a swimmer and in and out of the water running around the patio or beach between swims, the pads of their feet could get damaged, so monitor their activity and limit them to grass or soft surfaces. Also be cautious that they don’t ingest too much water when swimming.
  5. Prevent the pests. Be sure to keep your pets on monthly heart-worm, flea and tick prevention this season. Mosquitoes transmit heart-worm disease, which can be fatal if not detected early enough. Ticks can cause diseases such as Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, or Rock Mountain Spotted fever. Symptoms of these diseases can be as minor as lethargy and fever to lameness or swollen joints; some can even cause changes in blood values. Prevention is important in all pets even if they just go out for the bathroom or sit on a screened in porch as fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can all fit through screens.

Enjoy the beautiful warm weather and get some exercise, just make sure you and your pet are protected so you can have a safe and happy summer season.

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