Summer Safety with Pets
By Kimberly Gill & Sarah Liu
The summer season is finally upon us! The curtain has closed on the blues of winter and the sun has taken center stage. The days have grown longer, warmer, and are filled with adventure. As we soak up the summer sun, there are a few considerations we can keep in mind to ensure that our pets also enjoy a happy and healthy summer season.
When we think of the summer we think of the heat. As the summer sun intensifies, safely combatting the heat becomes a primary concern. Just as we find it necessary to seek relief from the summer heat, so too do our furry friends.
The Humane Society provides several recommendations for keeping pets cool and comfortable as the temperature rises. First and foremost, make sure your pets always have access to fresh water and shade. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining a safe body temperature, especially during months with high temperatures. Pets should never be left in parked cars, as temperatures can quickly become dangerous, and they should always have access to shaded spaces with unobstructed airflow when spending time outdoors. High levels of humidity can make it very difficult for animals to cool themselves down, so it is important to be mindful of humidity levels and limit your pet’s exercise on particularly warm or humid days. It is important that we educate ourselves about the symptoms of heat-induced illness so we can effectively protect our pets. Common symptoms of heatstroke, as well as effective intervention strategies if your pet is overheating, can be found on the Humane Society’s website (http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html).
Another consideration for summer safety is protection from those pesky pests, which seems to endlessly multiply as the months heat up. Summer is the perfect time for adventure and many of us enjoy including our beloved pets on our excursions. If your pet will be taking to the great outdoors for summer adventures, take steps to ensure that they will be protected from the potential harms of contact with pesky pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. Prevention should always be our first priority and there are many options available to pet parents. If you’re not sure which method of prevention is the best fit for you and your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your options and identify a strategy that will ensure a happy and healthy summer season for all.
Gatherings with friends and family are a staple of the summer season. Summer festivities are a great time to relax and create memories with our loved ones, but it is important that we remain mindful of the unique set of circumstances these festivities present for our pets.
The highlight of many summer gatherings is the food. The spoils of cookouts and potlucks are a welcome temptation for our hungry guests, but they can also peak the interest of our pets. If left unattended, buffet tables and guests’ plates may prove to be an irresistible temptation for curious pets. While some foods are safe to share with our beloved pets, others can be quite dangerous when consumed by them. It is important to know which foods are toxic for our pets, in the event that they decide to sneak a snack at the next cookout. Lists of common food hazards for our pets can be found on the Humane Society’s website (http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/foods_poisonous_to_pets.html) and on the ASPCA’s website (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets). These lists are informative but they are not all-inclusive. If you have any concerns regarding the health of your pet, immediately contact your veterinarian.
Ensure that your guests are familiarized with the number of pets who share your residence, as well as their individual personalities. It is also a good idea to familiarize your guests with policies in your home, such as securely latching doors when entering and exiting, to ensure that the possibility for pets to escape is limited. Pets should always be provided with a quiet place to escape the excitement of large gatherings, as the noise and commotion may become overwhelming for them. This is especially important as we approach the 4th of July. Many Independence Day celebrations conclude with an awe-inspiring fireworks display, but it important to keep in mind that the sights and sounds of fireworks can be extremely frightening for our pets. According to the ASPCA, 1 in 5 lost pets go missing when they are scared by loud noises, such as fireworks and thunderstorms (http://www.aspca.org/news/fourth-july-celebrate-pet-safety), so it is important that we revisit pet identification strategies, such as identification tags and micro-chipping. These are invaluable resources for reuniting families with lost loved ones.
School may be out for the summer, but with a little bit of education and a few simple steps, we can ensure that our beloved pets enjoy a happy and healthy summer season