Fun with Fido: Tips for a Safe Summer with Your Favorite Pet
Summer can be a great time to be a pet owner, but it’s also a time to stay alert about potential health hazards. The following suggestions may help Fido and Fluffy enjoy the summer as much as you do.
- Cookout fallout: Watch your pets around the picnic table; corn on the cob can get lodged in intestines if ingested whole, while onions are toxic for pets. The Humane Society also warns against alcohol, coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit pits, garlic, grapes, gum, raisins, avocados, macadamia nuts, walnuts and yeast dough, among other foods. Seek medical attention for vomiting, diarrhea, excessive panting or drooling, seizures, nosebleeds, abdominal tenderness or straining to defecate.
- Buckle up: Consider a restraint system for Fido’s safety as he rides in your car. Letting him sit on your lap can be tempting, but one survey found 59 percent of people are distracted when driving with unrestrained pets, increasing the risk of fender benders.
- Go with H20: Avoid dehydration by ensuring his water dish is always full and watching for signs he’s overdoing it on hot days; symptoms include dry gums, loss of skin elasticity and/or excessive drooling.
- Ray regimen: Many people aren’t aware pets with shaved skin, light skin and short or thin fur are susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. Seek a sunscreen made for pets; your choice should contain UVA and UVB barriers, be fragrance free and be non-staining. Similarly, insect repellent shouldn’t be used on pets unless formulated for animals.
- Summer wardrobe: Frequent brushing of your pet’s coat can help remove extra fur that’s uncomfortable on the warmest days.
- Car caution: Trapping your dog or cat in a hot vehicle can very quickly lead to heat stroke on sunny days, and is illegal in several states. Most at risk, the ASPCA reports, are animals that are young, elderly, overweight, thick-coated or dark-coated. Those with short muzzles (e.g., pugs and Persian cats) are also susceptible since they can’t pant as effectively.
- Beware of sizzling surfaces: Hot sand or asphalt can easily burn pets’ sensitive paw pads. Avoid walks during the hottest part of the day--typically from 10 AM-4 PM.
- Just say no to sprayed areas: Don’t allow your pet to play on lawns or other grassy areas that may have been treated with fertilizers or pesticides.
- Watch for leaked antifreeze: Overheated cars tend to drip this substance, which is both tasty and toxic to animals.
- Pool paradigm: Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs can swim; that means many should wear flotation devices around water. Chlorine, salt and other pool chemicals should be washed off their fur after a swim.
- Screening for screens: Accidents happen when pets jump out of windows or break through badly secured window screens. Make sure all your nearby windows are locked and secure.
Check outour safety section for other ideas on keeping cool, calm and collected this summer.