Summer is officially here and pets love summer just as much as we do. School is out and the days are longer which is the perfect recipe for increased attention and playtime.
Summer however does pose some health risks for our pets. Below is some information and tips on keeping your pet happy and healthy throughout the summer.
HEAT: Dogs and cats are much more intolerant to the heat than we are. Even warm summer days that we would consider comfortable, may be too warm for your pet. Dogs with short snouts will have a greater difficulty in the heat due to their anatomical arrangements.
· Never leave your pet in the car unattended for any reason or any length of time. Symptoms of heat stroke can start within minutes of being locked within car without air conditioning.
· Have a dark, cool area in your residence where your pet may retreat to if he/she is too hot. Make sure you offer cold water and feel free to place ice cubes within the water bowl to maintain the water temperature.
· When outside playing with your dog, encourage the use of a small wading pool and/or use a garden hose to bathe your dog with room temperature water (but make sure not use really cold water as this will make it more difficult for your dog to cool herself)
· During heat waves, it is recommend to significantly decrease the amount of walks and outdoor activities.
· Avoid if possible shaving your dog’s fur. Dogs do not have sweat glands (except in the pads) and therefore air movement over the skin is much less efficient in cooling. In addition, the hair actually acts as an insulation keeping the warm air away from the skin. Lastly, shaving increases the skin’s exposure to UV rays therefore making your dog more susceptible to sunburn and potentially skin cancer.
· While there may be benefits of shaving your dog, it is strongly recommended that you discuss them with your veterinarian first.
VEHICLES: Never let your dog hang its head outside the window while driving. There is a significantly increased chance of your pet being injured by various objects that may cause injury, especially to their eyes.
OUTDOOR CATS: While it is generally safer for a cat to remain indoors, we understand the need for some felines to want to wander outdoors. Make sure your cat is protected against fleas and if your cat actively hunts small mammals, regular deworming throughout the summer and fall is strongly recommended. It is common for cats to interact with other cats while outdoors so it is important to constantly check your cat for any fight wounds that may lead to severe infection and abscesses. It is also very strongly recommended to make sure your cat is spayed or neutered before going outdoors as well as fully vaccinated.
FIREWORKS & THUNDERSTORMS: This is a nightmare for dogs and cats that have noise phobias. For pet owners of affected animals long-weekends, while are usually very welcomed are often negated by the anticipation of loud fireworks and the effects they have on their beloved pet.
· It is natural to avoid situations that may be dangerous so it is important to make sure a safe place is readily available for your pet. A safe place may be a dark, secluded area with somewhat muted noise from the outdoors. If necessary you may play loud music to help damped the outside sounds.
· If for any reason you are outside with your pet during the fireworks, make sure your pet has a leash or is tied to a structure.
· While not always possible, try to engage your pet in some fun and positive activity.
· There are many successful behavioural modification techniques available so it is important to discuss your options with your veterinarian. For example: Playing a thunderstorm CD at a very low volume while performing a pleasant activity and gradually increasing the volume over time will help desensitize your pet.
GARDENING: Everyone wants a healthy garden and to keep your pet safe and healthy, please follow the following tips.
· Make sure your compost pile is far away from your pet. If applicable, be especially careful while spreading the compost throughout your garden. Compost may contain Mycotoxins, which cause tremors, seizures and sometimes death in dogs and cats after ingestion.
· Snail and slug baits contain metaldehyde, which may cause vomiting, disorientation, tremors and elevated heart rate in dogs and cats after ingestion. Be sure to investigate natural control options for snails and slugs in your yard.
· There are many species of poisonous plants. Research your plants using the ASPCA poison control plant database to determine if your plants are toxic to pets. If planting new plants, it is best to pick one that is non-toxic to pets.
· Many people know chocolate is toxic to dogs. Cocoa Mulch has the same ingredient within it that will make your dog ill if consumed. Cocoa mulch has a sweet smell that will attract your dog.
· There may be many hidden parasites lurking in your garden such as fleas and ticks. It is best to make sure your dog or cat is protected against these parasites.
*For additional details on Parasite Prevention, please visit our Spring Spotlight for more information.