Our pets are pretty awesome, right? They wait all day for us to come home and play with them, and on the weekends they just want to come along for the ride - where ever that may be. With BBQs to attend, pools to swim in, and places to venture to in the warm weather - there are a lot of opportunities for our furry family members to tag along. But, with these fun things come some hazards that could be harmful to our pet. With some knowledge and understanding of what to watch for Summer 2017, can be your best one yet. Read on for some tips on how to keep your pet safe, healthy, and most of all - happy, all season long!
Keep pets off hot asphalt and out of truck beds
With the temperatures heating up, so do many of the surfaces our pets use every day. Since our fur balls are closer to the ground, and covered in fur, they heat up much quicker than we do. In the dead of Summer, you can almost see the heat rising off the roads. Imagine being just a couple inches off the ground during those moments. Hot! Add to that, their paw pads are very sensitive. Pads can burn quickly in just a couple minutes of time, leaving your pet in a lot of pain during your daily walk, and for days after. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it's too hot for you to walk bare foot on the road - or too hot to stand in the bed of the truck (or sit with your legs touching the metal) - then it's too hot for your pets to walk or sit.
Fur the Love tip: Take your pet to a hiking trail. Dirt and grass is much cooler than asphalt, and trails are typically shaded with trees - making it more comfortable for everyone. And in general - don't put your dog in the bed of your truck when driving - it's not safe ever. If you can't put them in the actual seats of your truck, then don't bring them.
Get your pet up to date on their flea, tick, & heart worm prevention
Summer is prime time for fleas, ticks, and heart worm. Make sure you are taking all precautions to protect your pet from getting any of these parasites. If you're unsure of the best method, talk to your vet. There are so many options to choose from, but one thing is for sure: protection is a must. Ticks carry Lyme disease that can be debilitating to dogs as we just learned first hand when our pup, Ryley, got it.
Fur the Love tip: Water weakens some methods of protection, as we just found out! Wait a full 24 hours after applying a flea and tick prevention oil to their coats, before allowing your pet into any water. Also, some flea and tick prevention collars weaken in water. Read the directions fully or ask your vet for a full run down on how to get the most out of your preferred method.
Keep your pets hydrated in the heat, every day
As mentioned earlier, pets overheat much quicker than we do. Imagine wearing a sweater made of fur everywhere you went this Summer; that would certainly make most activities nearly unbearable. Sure, your pet is used to the warmth of their coat, much more than we would be if we just put one on, but they aren't used to being in the hot Summer sun all the time. Refresh you pet's water, even indoors, throughout the day, especially in the Summer. Pets dehydrate much quicker than we do causing excessive drooling, lethargy, loss of coordination, and even death. When walking your pet in the heat, bringing them to an outdoor activity, or letting them lay in the yard on their leash, always keep fresh, cool water within their reach, and refresh often.
Fur the Love tip: Pet stores, Walmart, and places like Marshall's often have collapsible silicone bowls that clip onto your belt loop or key chain for quick water breaks on your walks, without having to lug a giant bowl everywhere.
Keep your pets leashed this Summer
We can all agree Summer is pretty awesome, but with Summer comes new sights, sounds, and friendly, furry neighborhood visitors. BBQs bring hot grills, tiki torches, pools, new faces, and fireworks. A slow moving, normally "good" dog that doesn't usually stray from your sight could get startled in the event of a loud noise, or could run over to meet a stray cat wandering through the neighbor's yard. A dog wanting to greet a familiar face at the BBQ could accidentally knock into the grill causing a catastrophe to not just the burgers being cooked. And a pup in search of some cool water could accidentally step on the pool cover, thinking it's stable, to get a drink of water. Don't assume your normally well behaved dog won't get spooked this Summer, or overexcited. Pool covers are deceiving to animals and they can become trapped, tangled, or confused when stepping on one. Keep your dog leashed. We all let them off the leash in an act of being good to our fur babies, but in reality, we could be putting them in harm's way.
No Unsupervised Swimming
Not all dogs are good swimmers. Just because a dog CAN swim, doesn't mean it wants to, or should. Throwing your pup in the pool to help it cool off is not always a good idea. Dogs - especially if dehydrated from the heat - can quickly become tired in the pool. Prevent injuries, or worse - drowning - by first ensuring your dog can swim and then always supervising their swimming. Ryley absolutely LOVES the water, and is a great swimmer, but I always keep an eye on her for signs of exhaustion or injury. Dogs are like little kids - they don't know when to stop. Dogs will play until they literally can't move and need to sleep. Don't let this happen in the water. Stay mindful of your dog's emotions and actions, and take them out of the water as soon as they show signs of being worn out.
Fur the Love tip: Our pup Ryley is a big fish - we can't keep her out of the water. Because she would stay in the water until she practically fell asleep in it, we bought her a life jacket. Life jackets for dogs can be found at any pet store. We purchased ours at Walker's Pet Hotail in Murrysville. Be sure it's snug, but not too tight, when you buy it. Put it on your pup and be prepared to totally swoon over how ridiculously cute they now look in a life jacket (refer to above pic for cuteness overload!)
Keep dogs off unknown grass
"Unknown grass" sounds kind of funny, right?! Essentially though, the tip here is that lawn treatments are often poisonous to pups if ingested. Be aware of the lawns in your neighborhood that have signs in them that state the grass has just received treatment (you know the signs I'm talking about - the ones the company's leave to advertise their biz). Keep your pup on the sidewalks, and don't let them eat grass from anyone's yard.
Fur the Love tip: As soon as you and your pup get back from a walk, rinse off their paws with soap and water. Since it's Summer, your dog will most likely be pleased with a nice cool-down the rinse-off brings, and this will ensure that any lawn chemicals are removed from their paws. If you have a lawn service come and treat your lawn, keep your pets off the lawn until the chemical has fully dried.
Assume your dog is forever under-age
By this, I mean - NO ALCOHOL! Summertime for many often means sipping beer at a cookout, or having an alcoholic beverage by the pool. Do not, I repeat - do not, feed your dog any alcohol. Yes - your dog will be curious and want to lick the can, or drink the beer, but you should absolutely not allow them to. Just a small amount of alcohol can impair your pooch and cause their internal organs great damage. It is not cute, funny, or a good idea to allow pets of any size to drink alcohol.
Groom and Brush your pets often this Summer
Cats can heat up quickly, especially with all that fur. Keep your cat's coat groomed and untangled by brushing them often. A neat, and smooth coat allows your cat to keep cooler in the Summer months. As for dogs (and I guess cats too), don't shave all their fur off. Keep their coats trimmed to allow more air flow, but don't shave them completely. Their fur protects them from sunburn!
Allow access to the cool spots at home & the shady spots outdoors
Rooms can heat up fast in the Summer, and pets will naturally seek out the tile, wood, and concrete floors in your home. Allow them access to these spots so they can lay on them and stay cool. When you're outdoors, make sure your pets have a shady spot to lay, whether under a tree, a patio roof, an umbrella, or a tent. Dogs and cats don't sweat to cool off like we do. Our pets pant to release hot air, as you probably already know. Keep an eye on your pet. If they begin panting heavily and/or excessively, bring them indoors, give them some fresh, cool water, and allow them time away from the sun.
Do not leave pets in cars or outside while you're gone for the day
I feel this goes without saying, but obviously so many people still do it. You've heard it before, you'll hear it again - but cars heat up FAST! On a hot day, a dog or cat in a car can get heat stroke and die within minutes. Just don't do it. Don't leave your pet in the car while you run in anywhere, however quick you think you'll be. And don't leave your dog outside while you're gone all day. Just because you've provided shade for your dog outside, while you're away, does not mean they can always get to it. Your dog can become excited and get tangled up in the sun, unable to get to the shady spot, leaving it susceptible to heat stroke and death. I know it's all very morbid, but basically just bring your pet indoors. If it's too hot for you to lay outside in the sun for hours without breaks inside, then it's way too hot for them, too. Always remember they are basically wearing a big sweater all the time!
Summer is fun, and it looks like it's finally made it's way to us in Western Pennsylvania. Have a blast, do all the activities and go to all the cookouts, but keep an eye on your pets. They adore being around you and will follow you to the ends of the earth, but it is our job to protect them. If there will be fireworks, or potential hazards, or if it's just too hot outside, then leave them at home. The risk to their health is not worth it. And if you do bring them along, be good to them by monitoring their behavior and keeping them out of the alcohol, keeping them in the shade, and always hydrating those cute little fluff balls.