Happy Independence Day! The Fourth of July is considered by many to be the official kickoff to summer fun and recreation. Pet lovers enjoy spending time outside with their animal companions, but here are a few things to remember to keep them safe.
Dogs, cats, and many other animals are less heat tolerant than humans. They don’t sweat to cool down the way humans do and generally have an insulating coat of fur. Panting is one of the main ways dogs and cats expel heat and excessive panting could be a sign of overheating. As a general rule, don’t take your pets for long walks when the temperatures start to rise above 80 degrees. When you do go for walks, make sure to provide plenty of fresh water and avoid black top which can burn the pads on their feet.
Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about flea and tick protection for your pet. Ticks can carry many diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Tick season varies by location and your veterinarian is the best person to ask about the treatment period in your area and which specific preventative they recommend for your pet. Fleas are also a major vector for tape worms and can cause severe dermatitis and allergic problems in many pets. Flea and tick preventatives are generally very safe.
Make sure to keep your pet on year-round heartworm preventative. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and is fatal if left untreated. The treatment for heartworm disease is expensive and dangerous. Even some treated dogs won’t make it, so it is important to take prevention seriously. Heartworm preventatives also prevent intestinal parasites during the winter.
Watch out for summer-specific toxins. These include fireworks, tiki torch fluid, and some species of toads, snakes, and spiders. Research any plants you buy for the yard to ensure that they aren’t toxic. Keep dogs out of warm ponds as they may contain the highly toxic blue green algae. If your pet has exposure to something and you aren’t sure if it is toxic, please contact your veterinarian at once.
Be vigilant at the beach or around the pool. Not all dogs are swimmers. Most dogs will naturally “dog paddle” in water, but that doesn’t mean that they can keep it up for a long time. Many dogs become anxious in the water and could drown because they are scared or grow exhausted. Remember that even strong swimmers can drown if the current is strong. If you intend to do a lot of swimming you may want to consider investing in a life jacket for your dog as a precaution.
Finally, please, please never leave your animal companion in a parked car in the hot sun. If you absolutely must leave your pet alone for a moment, please remember to leave a window rolled down enough to allow fresh air in but not far enough for him or her to climb out and get lost or hurt.
Have a safe summer.
Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!