MARY JO NAGY | Pets In summer heat, extra care will keep pets safe
Summer months often bring news reports of animals dying from thirst or exposure to the sun. Humane officers receive abundant calls concerning animals that do not have proper shelter, shade or water. A little compassion and common sense will make a pet comfortable during the hottest months of the year.
Angels for Animals strongly suggests that all cats and dogs be kept inside, year round. The only exceptions should include walks, other exercise and bathroom breaks. Don't let your animals run freely, it is not only dangerous but also a nuisance to your neighbors. Running animals are vulnerable to injury, poisoning and abuse. Letting your dog run the neighborhood is never a proper form of exercise.
Necessary items: If your animal has to be outside, it must have proper shelter and a shady area to rest. A sturdy doghouse placed under a tree will help. Without shelter from the sun and heat, your animal can suffer heatstroke.
Symptoms of heatstroke may include difficult or rapid breathing, heavy panting, vomiting, a reddened tongue and gums, a blank stare, a staggering gait or a sudden collapse. Make sure the chain is untangled and the run is adequate in length. The area should be kept clear of feces and trash.
All animals need plenty of fresh, clean water in a secured bowl at all times. It is not your dog's fault that his bucket spills if it is not secured. Do not punish your pet by leaving an empty bowl. If you are thirsty, then your pet is thirsty. Animals can quickly dehydrate in warm weather. Also, animals tend to eat less in the summer due to less activity. Replace food daily because of spoilage and insects that tend to gather around your pet's food bowl.
Use caution during the Fourth of July holiday week. Many pets are frightened by the fireworks and will run off when they hear the popping and explosions. Do not take your dog to fireworks displays. Keep your cat indoors, because many times they are targets of cruel and horrible tricks played with firecrackers.
Parked car: Leaving your pet in a parked car, even for a few minutes, can be a deadly mistake. On a warm day, the temperature in a parked car can reach 120 F in a matter of minutes. Leaving the window partly open will not keep the heat down. Even with the windows open, you make your pet vulnerable to escape or to being stolen. If you are shopping, leave your pet at home.
When the temperature rises, limit walks and exercise to the morning or evening hours. Remember an animal's normal body temperature is higher than humans' and their ability to cool is less effective. Animals cool down by painting and perspiring through footpads.
Keep all vaccinations updated. Rabies is a serious disease. Most cases of rabies are reported during the warmer months, because wild animals are seen more frequently. Pets can get rabies from wild animals, and you can get rabies from an infected pet.
In addition, make sure your pet is on a heartworm preventative year round. Heartworms are internal parasites that are spread through infected mosquitoes. Dogs and cats can suffer serious health problems that can lead to death if left untreated.
Fleas, ticks: Also, fleas and ticks are a nuisance during the summer months. Consult your veterinarian about the many treatments that are available to prevent fleas. Keep your pet regularly brushed, which will keep his coat shiny and healthy. Regularly check behind your pet's ears, neck and head for ticks. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside in the summer suffer from fly bites, especially around the ears. Make sure you have a good fly repellent made for animals.
Try not to have pets walk in yards that have been treated with pesticides and lawn sprays. Pet owners have reported that their animals suffer from breathing difficulties and other skin problems. Pets can ingest lawn chemicals by licking their feet.
The best advice during the warmer months is to keep your pet indoors with you. The happiest pets are those that have human companionship. Be a responsible pet owner and never leave a pet unattended.