Summer is the ideal time for picnic fun and beach trips—not a pet disaster. Fun summertime activities will undoubtedly have your entire family—two- and four-legged members, alike—enjoying the great outdoors, but be aware of the pet dangers that could turn your fun time into a nightmare. Follow these three safety tips, to ensure your pet enjoys the summer unscathed.
#1: Prevent heatstroke in your pet
As temperatures rise, your pet’s risk of heatstroke also increases. Pets can easily overheat if they are left outside, exercise, or overdo it on hot or humid days. Ensure your pet’s fun in the sun isn’t interrupted by a bout of heatstroke, by taking the following precautions:
- Limit time outdoors — Watch your pet closely when they are outside on hot days, and bring them in after a short period. Brachycephalic breeds (e.g., bulldogs, Persian cats, etc.), as well as older, overweight, and debilitated pets, overheat more easily, and should go out for short bathroom breaks only on hot days.
- Provide water and shade — Ensure your pet has access to shady spots, and plenty of cool water in a tip-proof bowl, when they are enjoying time outdoors. You may need to remind your rambunctious Labrador retriever to take a break from playing every 10 minutes to cool down and take a drink.
- Avoid exercising in hot weather — Avoid the midday heat, and schedule your daily walk or jog for the early morning or evening hours, when temperatures are cooler. Take it easy on humid days, sticking to short walks only.
- Never leave your pet inside a parked car — The inside of your car can reach almost 100 degrees in 20 minutes on a 70-degree day, with more dangerous temperatures as the heat rises. Cracking the windows does not provide enough air flow to help, and pets can succumb to heatstroke quickly.
#2: Practice water safety with your pet
If you are heading to Onondaga Lake, or up to Lake Ontario, ensure your furry friend is safe around the water. Some dogs are born swimmers, while others haven’t the slightest idea what to do in the water, regardless of their breed. If your Portuguese water dog has never ventured into deep water before, don’t assume they instinctively know how to swim. Start your pet off slowly, letting them walk into the water from the shore while tethered to a long leash. Never throw your pet into water so deep they cannot touch the bottom, and expect them to doggy paddle—your pet may panic, and could drown.
If your dog will accompany you on a beach vacation, take care to prevent salt water toxicity from drinking sea water, which can cause serious effects, such as severe dehydration, brain damage, and death. Ensure you take plenty of fresh water, so your dog is not tempted to drink salt water, or stagnant water.
#3: Take heed of July Fourth dangers
July Fourth is the paramount summer holiday, but its loud, chaotic celebrations aren’t necessarily pet-friendly. Between boisterous picnics and fireworks displays, pets with noise aversion can suffer panic attacks and run away, and area shelters are filled each year. If loud noises don’t bother your pet, they are still at risk of getting overlooked in the hubbub, or suffering gastrointestinal upset from eating too much picnic food. Ensure your pet’s safety this July Fourth by taking extra precautions, including:
- Creating a safe space for your noise-phobic pet — Stock an interior room corner with a cozy bed and tempting toys, to create a safe retreat for your pet during fireworks displays. Turn on the television, or play soft classical music to drown out the sound, and distract your pet with a long-lasting treat, such as a peanut butter-filled Kong or a food puzzle. Try adding a comforting scent to your pet’s environment, with a plug-in pheromone diffuser, such as Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats. This space can double as a storm shelter for pets who become anxious during thunderstorms, as well.
- Microchipping your pet — If your pet is scared by a sudden loud noise while out in your yard, or being walked by a younger family member, they may panic and bolt. Increase the chances of a happy reunion by having our Stack Veterinary Hospital team implant a microchip under your pet’s skin before the July Fourth holiday, so they have life-long permanent identification. If your pet already has a microchip, be sure to keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.
- Keeping your pet away from picnic foods — Your picnic table will undoubtedly be weighed down by lots of goodies, but refrain from sharing rich foods with your pet that could trigger pancreatitis. Some dishes, such as chocolate chip cookies or fruit salad, may contain ingredients that could cause severe toxicity, so stick to foods you know are safe for your pet, such as a few blueberries or raw carrots.
- Leaving your pet home — Although decking your pet out in red, white, and blue, and carting them along to the local parade is tempting, crowds of strangers and loud noises make most pets uncomfortable at best, and downright petrified at worst. To avoid a potential disaster, leave your pet home to nap in their favorite sunbeam while you celebrate.
We hope you enjoy a fun, safe summer with your four-legged friend. If you have any health care concerns, give us a call—we’re here to help.