Summertime is a great season to be active with your pets, but heat, especially in Arizona, can bring about some pet care challenges.
Wild animals are adapted to the elements, but companion animals can be just as susceptible to extreme temperatures as their owners. What does that mean for your pet? When temperatures get extreme, pet safety should be a top priority.
Here's a few ways to stay safe while enjoying summer activities with your pet:
Mind the heat. Humans aren't the only species that can get overwhelmed by a hot summer day. Unlike humans though, your pet has a limited ability to deal with the heat. Dogs release heat through their paw pads and also by panting. Humans can sweat through all of the skin on their body. Dehydration tends to be a big problem for pets during the hot weather months also.
And since we're in Arizona... it should not have to be said, but PLEASE never, ever, EVER leave your pets in the car during summer months. The inside of a vehicle, even with the windows cracked, can reach 30-40 degrees hotter than the scorching outside temperatures and will kill your pets in minutes.
According to the ASPCA, animals with flat faces—like Pugs and Persian cats—cannot pant as effectively, and are therefore more susceptible to heat stroke. Elderly or overweight pets or animals with heart and lung disease should also be more carefully watched. In the summer, always be extra cautious to have an excess of plenty of fresh, cool water. It's also best to avoid letting them run around outside during the hottest parts of the day.
Eliminate bugs — safely. Along with the heat comes another pet safety issue - the presence of ticks and other summer insects. It's not only that bugs carry diseases, but the ways people try to ward them off can also cause problems for your outdoor pet's health. Fertilizers and pesticides may help keep a lawn looking great, but they can be very dangerous for your pet. In the areas where your pets play, it's better to keep the grass cut short to reduce the presence of ticks and other insects. Also keep an eye out for fertilizer warnings on neighbors' lawns when walking your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and other insects that are more prevalent during the summer months.
Beware of antifreeze. In the summertime, antifreeze can leak out of cars when they overheat, leaving puddles on the ground that your dog can easily lap up and swallow. The sweet taste of antifreeze is tempting to dogs and cats, but when this toxic substance is ingested, it's potentially lethal. Pay attention to your neighbors' cars and puddles on your street, and make sure your pets stay clear of it.
Find out if your pet needs sunscreen. Some pets, particularly those with short fine hair and pink skin, can be susceptible to sunburn. Talk to your veterinarian about which types of sunscreen are safest on your pet's skin, and follow up by routinely applying sunscreen as part of your summer routine. Do not use sunscreen or insect repellents that are not designed specifically for use on animals. The ASPCA says ingesting certain sunscreens can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy in pets.
Practice water safety. As with other aspects of summer pet care, water safety is all about thinking ahead. Although it's fun to bring your pet to the beach or pool to stay cool together, always keep a close eye on your pet when they're in or near the water. Even a strong swimmer could have trouble getting out of a pool, or get trapped by ropes and other obstacles. For more risky summer adventures with your dog, like boating, look into a doggie life preserver. It could prove to be an excellent investment for his safety.
Summer pet safety isn't hard, it just requires some thought and attention. Watch over your pet the way you would a small child—protect them from too much heat, sun, and other summer dangers—and everything should be just fine.
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Ahwatukee pet sitter Bridget Freidhoff has a passion for Animals
My passion for animals and interest in serving others inspired my decision to become a professional pet sitter.
Prior to opening 4PawSitting in Ahwatukee, I was an experienced veterinary assistant for several years at a prestigous hospital in Scottsdale, assisting in all types of surgeries, performing dentals, post op care, hospitalization, and educating owners on overall wellness.
I provide full time caring for pets while their owners are away. Having your pet in a comfortable environment without the kennel concerns and extra vaccinations makes your travel less stressful. That's why I started 4Paw Sitting.