Summer is a busy time. We plan our to-do list all year long, and somehow still miss out on many fun things, because we wake up one day and it’s suddenly September. Where did all that time go? At Mill Creek Animal Hospital, we may not know the answer, but we can help you make the most of your summer plans with our top 10 list of pet summer safety do’s—and don’ts. Keeping your pet safe and avoiding veterinary visits will give you more time for fun.
#1: DO provide your pet with fresh water at all times
Dogs and cats dehydrate rapidly in the summer heat. Pets cannot sweat—the few sweat glands they have in their paw pads help them with traction rather than cooling. Panting is their only method of dispersing heat. Pets without water will dehydrate, so if you are outside with your pet, check their water bowl often, and refill as necessary. Also, ensure they always have shade.
#2: DON’T leave your pet in the car
Every year hundreds of pets needlessly die inside hot cars. Cracking the windows is not enough to provide adequate air flow or cooling. When the outside temperature is above 70 degrees, your car can heat 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Leave your pets at home, or ensure they can join you at your destination.
#3: DO schedule your pet’s outdoor exercise in cooler times of day
Your lunch break may be a convenient time for you for a walk around the block, but not for your dog. Early morning and late evening are the best times to exercise without the risk of heat-related illness.
#4: DON’T walk your dog on hot surfaces
While your dog’s paw pads look tough, they are no match for hot asphalt. The sun can raise surface temperatures 40 to 60 degrees above the air temperature. On a mild 77-degree day, the asphalt can reach 125 degrees. Paw pad burns may not be immediately obvious on your pet, except for a sudden limp, but can be incredibly painful, and require veterinary attention. Test a surface temperature with the back of your hand. If you cannot comfortably hold your hand down for seven seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog to walk on.
#5: DO keep your pet on flea, tick, and heartworm preventives year-round
Summer brings out everyone and everything, including fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. Ticks are experiencing a population boom this year, and their active season is longer than ever. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is also increasing in the Midwest. Keep your pet current on their parasite preventive medications to ensure their protection against disease. Dogs and cats should be tested for heartworm disease annually to ensure their preventive is effective, and to catch disease in the early stages.
#6: DON’T take your dog to a fireworks display
Fireworks can be frightening and chaotic for pets—especially dogs. Never take your dog to a fireworks display, or leave them outside during fireworks, because the loud, unpredictable noises can scare pets, who may run away, become disoriented, and get lost.
#7: DO keep your pet’s identification current
Many microchipped pets have never been registered, and microchips are effective only if they are connected to the owner’s correct contact information. Mill Creek Animal Hospital can scan your pet’s microchip, and help you update your information. Pets’ tags also are often out of date, so check your pet’s tags, and ensure your phone number and other information are current, and readable.
#8: DON’T feed your pet from the table or grill
Summer foods are sugary, greasy, and salty, and make poor choices for your furry friends. Small bites of these rich foods can upset a cat or dog’s gastrointestinal system, which—despite what their pleading eyes tell you—was not designed for snow cones, bratwurst, or deep-fried anything. Also, never feed your dog corn on the cob or meat bones, which frequently lead to digestive tract blockages or tears, and may require surgery and hospitalization.
#9: DO learn heatstroke signs in pets
The greatest summer threats to your pet are heat injury and heatstroke. Underestimating the power of heat, until it’s too late, is easy. Know the warning signs, treatment, and prevention of heatstroke to avoid this potentially devastating tragedy.
#10: DON’T forget the pet first aid kit
For your pet’s minor injuries, we recommend keeping a well-stocked pet first aid kit in your home and car. For more serious pet problems, put our hospital on speed dial, if you haven’t already, and call us right away for any pet injury or illness, so we can advise you on your next steps.
With so many places to go and things to see, fitting everything into one summer can be a challenge. Mill Creek Animal Hospital is here for all your pet’s needs, although we understand if you would rather not add us to your sightseeing list. By remembering our do’s and don’ts, you can focus on making memories, and not trips to the veterinary hospital. Contact us if you have questions about your pet’s summer safety.