Summertime means longer daylight hours to enjoy outdoor activities, exercising and vacations. When animals are included in the fun, we sometimes overlook the health-related heat risks associated with being outside.
As the summer heat rages on, Huntsville Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Sheppard has some words of caution for those who enjoy the great outdoors with their pets.
“Our furry companions can really suffer this time of year if we aren’t cognizant of risks for heat-related health issues and prepare for their needs,” she said.
The following tips can help keep your pet safe during summer months. As always, consult a veterinarian for specific concerns:
Make a plan
Checking weather forecasts, knowing signs of heat stress, keeping your pet’s vaccinations updated as well as ensuring heartworm and flea/tick prevention can avoid a lot of heartache in summer months.
Make sure there is access to plenty of fresh, clean water and shade while your pet is outside.
Keep ’em at home
Never leave pets alone in a parked vehicle as it can lead to heat-related illness or death. Leave them at home while you are out and about.
Change your routine
Taking your dog on a walk, run or hike is good exercise but paw pads can burn on hot asphalt. Also, a pet’s body is closer to the ground than yours and can absorb a lot of heat from pavement. Save those activities for cooler parts of the day and take frequent breaks.
The warm weather might bring out the avid gardener or yard enthusiast in you, but many insecticides can be harmful to animals. Tiki torches, citronella candles and insect coils should be kept out of your pet’s reach as well.
Don’t leave your pets unsupervised around a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers, so be sure your pooch wears a flotation device while boating. Rinse them off after fun in the water to remove chlorine or salt from their coats.
Keep an eye out
Pay close attention to how heat might affect young puppies and kittens as well as elderly pets as they are more vulnerable to heat stress.
Ask your vet
Should your pet get a summer haircut or wear sunscreen? These are necessary measures for some dogs (and even some cats!) but check with your vet to be sure.
Fireworks are a fun way to celebrate Independence Day, but they’re prohibited inside the City limits and no fun for your pets. Frightened outdoor pets may escape to find a quiet place, which is why it’s a good idea to microchip your pets and include the latest contact information.
To calm indoor pets, play some quiet music or leave the TV on to help soften the bangs and booms of nearby fireworks. If you must keep a pet outside during fireworks activity, make sure fences are in good condition and openings are obstructed.
Keep summer fun by keeping your furry family members safe. For additional information about heat safety and pets, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.