10 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe This Summer
The sun is blazing, green grass is swaying — summer is a magical time for both people and pets. But high temperatures and extra time spent outdoors brings some new considerations to keep your furry family members comfortable, safe and cool this summer.
Here are ten quick tips to a safer summer with your pet.
1. Maximize Time Indoors
Your cat is perched at the window, looking longingly at the bright day outside. Should you let her out? Most experts agree that cats kept indoors enjoy longer lives. If you’d like to give your indoor cat an occasional trip out in nature, it’s best to use some type restraint: a leash or harness like this one (practice indoors first), or purchase a cat enclosure to set her up safely outdoors.
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2. Keep Them Cool While You’re Away
Indoors can get stuffy and hot in warm temperatures, so if you’re off at the beach or at work all day, don’t forget to monitor the home temperature. Keep a pet-safe fan (like this fan) running in the room where your furry friends hang out. Draw the blinds on all sunny windows, and consider purchasing a cooling mat (click here for a great option) for your pet to rest on. On very hot days, arrange for someone to check in on your pet.
3. Secure Your Entryways
The start of summer is a great time for a routine safety check of all your doors and windows. Windows should have a safety lock to prevent the opening from being wide enough for your pet to fall through. This is particularly important with cats who enjoy watching outdoors; with the increased activity, your cat may be tempted to pounce or paw at a window or screen. With doors being opened and closed more in nicer weather, add a child gate (like this) to prevent pets from slipping out.
4. Keep Water Flowing
Proper hydration helps keep your pets cool and fend of heat related problems. Most pets are more likely to drink fresh water, so empty and refill their water bowl with clean water more frequently. (Be sure to avoid dirty tap water.) Some pets enjoy ice cubes added to their water, or, you might try a chilled water bowl (like this one) to help keep water appealing longer. If you’re away for long days, consider buying a refillable water bowl like this one.
5. Steer Clear of Backyard Dining
Cookouts and backyard picnic mean your dog is more likely to get into something he shouldn’t. Particular hazards to watch for: bags of chips and treats left at snout-level on your kitchen counter, meat cooking too close to the edge of the grill, stray cobs of corn or bones, or scraps that could cause digestive woes, such as fatty meat, seasoned veggies, or rich desserts. Be as vigilant outdoors as you are inside, or if guests or preparations have you distracted, tuck your pup indoors until you can tidy up safely.
6. Avoid Bugs
They’re more than just a nuisance; fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can transmit dangerous diseases to your cat or dog, such as Lyme disease, heartworm, and other tick borne illnesses. (And did you know dogs can be bitten by as many as 500 mosquitoes per day in peak season?) It’s important to talk to your veterinarian to learn the best preventative measure to use against the pests common to your region.
You can also take steps to minimize pests in your yard and home: keep grass and bushes trimmed, avoid standing water and remove dead brush. Discourage your pet from exploring in long grass or overgrown brush. Give your dog or cat a quick visual inspection after they’ve been outdoors, or brush them to intercept any unwanted critters.
7. Practice Auto Safety
The nicer weather brings more opportunities to take your dog in the car. While it’s tempting to make that quick stop in the grocery store, never leave your pet unattended in your car; the temperature will skyrocket quickly in warm weather, leaving your pet trapped in a potentially deadly environment. Some states have laws in place, making it illegal to leave a dog confined in an unattended car.
8. Reduce the Exercise
While fitness and the daily business are still a necessity, reduce your mileage in the high heat. Take shorter walks early and late in the day. In between, head for wooded paths or shady streets. Swap the daily game of fetch for less physically exerting games, such as sniffing out hidden toys, playing canine puzzles such as this one, or teaching your dog a new trick.
9. Research Their Breed
Some breeds have a harder time cooling themselves than others. Those with a flattened nose and muzzle — referred to as Brachycephalic — fall into this category, making them more susceptible to heat dangers. For cats, this includes Persians or himalayans; for dogs, bulldogs, pugs, and shih tzus are some common Brachycephalic breeds. Don’t overlook mixed breeds — if your lovable rescue pup has a flat face or stub nose, he falls into this category as well. For these pets, take extra steps to prevent overheating: shortened walks, avoid direct sunlight, plenty of water and hunker down with a fan or A/C during the warmest part of the day.
10. Know the Danger Signs
Excessive exposure to heat can cause health concerns like heat stroke and dehydraion — dangerous situations for a dog or cat. Early symptoms include: excessive panting, uncharacteristic drooling, high body temperature, rapid heartbeat, or strange or disoriented behavior. Check here for a more detailed list. If your dog or cat is exhibiting questionable symptoms, bring him to a cooler location, offer fresh water or place a chilled, damp towel on his body, and check in with your veterinarian if symptoms persist.
The pleasant, relaxing days of summer offer plenty of time to enjoy your dog or cat. Be mindful of their safety and you’ll soon be making warm, lasting memories!
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.