Summer Pet Safety

Author: Alecia Pirulis

The sounds of summer surround me: kids, splashing in the pool; birds, singing their early-morning songs; insects, buzzing as they hover over summer blooms; Peanut, my slightly overweight black pug, panting heavily; and Pinky, my Chihuahua, uttering high-pitched whines as she tries to hide from the rumble of a distant thunderstorm.

Ah, summer. I’ve missed you.

Most of us know the basics of summer safety: watch the kids around the pool, apply sunscreen often and liberally – even on cloudy days, and drink plenty of liquid — especially when working outside. But do you know the basics of summer pet safety? Here are a few tricks and tips to keep your furry friend happy and cool all summer long:

1. If you have a pet that is afraid of thunderstorms, purchase a “thunder shirt.” This handy item “hugs” your dog and helps relive his anxiety. Your vet can also prescribe medication you can give your dog when a storm approaches.

2. Pets feel the heat, too – and they can’t cool off very efficiently. They only sweat through the pads of their feet, and the only way they can expel heat is through panting. During summer, only walk your pet in the early morning or later in the evening, when the sun isn’t so strong. Take water with you, and keep an eye on your pet for signs that he’s had enough. Never, ever leave your pet in the car – not even for a couple of minutes. If your pet isn’t allowed where you are going, leave him at home.

To help relieve the heat, wet a pet bandana and put it in the freezer. After a couple of hours, tie it around your pet’s neck. It will help cool him down. Also, your pet may appreciate a few cubes of ice in his water bowl.

3. Hot pavement burns! If it is too much for your feet, it is too much for your pet’s sensitive paws, as well. If you must walk on hot pavement, purchase some dog booties to protect your pet, or take a wet towel along for your pet to stand on.

4. Pets can get sunburns and skin cancer! You remember to apply sunscreen to your kids and yourself, but don’t forget about your pet. You can use a pet sunscreen or a baby’s sunscreen (don’t use a regular adult sunscreen – it is too strong). Apply where your pet doesn’t have fur – the top of his nose, his ears, and his belly.

5. Some dogs aren’t good swimmers. My pug can’t swim. She is also afraid of water. We keep an eye on her when around the pool, at the beach or lake, and while boating. If your pet enjoys the water, consider a pet ramp for your dock, boat, or pool to help your pet climb in and out easily.

Your pet should wear a life vest while in and around the water. Just like us, they can tire easily and may not make it back to shore – a life vest will help them stay afloat.

6. Last but not least – take your dog to the vet for a summer check-up! Get her checked for heartworm, renew her medications, and make sure her shots are up to date.