Summers are beautiful in North Idaho; however, as much as we enjoy this time of year, it can be hard on pets at times. Here are some summer safety tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t assume your dog can swim well
Just because dogs instinctively know how to swim, doesn’t mean they’re good swimmers. If you and your dog enjoy water activities on the lake, like boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding, it’s a good idea to have Fido wear a doggie life jacket, even if he is a good swimmer.
- Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbecues can be poisonous to pets
Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression, and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
- Commonly used rodenticides and lawn & garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested
Keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products, and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
- Make sure your dog is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes
If not protected, your dog is at risk for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people too!
- Dogs get can get sunburned
Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like with people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).
- Keep your dog’s paws cool
When the sun is cooking, try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating.
- Be on the lookout in lakes and ponds
Avoid lakes and ponds with blue-green algae, signified by scummy water and a foul odor. Algae can produce a toxin that may cause severe sickness or seizures quickly if your pet ingests the water, by either drinking from the lake or licking tainted fur.
- Your dog should always have access to fresh drinking water and shade
Dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down.
- Never leave your pets in a parked car
Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. You may think leaving your pet in a car for a few minutes is no big deal, but it can quickly lead to heat stroke in dogs and cats. In bright sunshine, your car acts like an oven, becoming much hotter inside than the outside air even. In fact, on a sunny 70 degree day, your car can heat up to over 100 degrees within minutes. If you need to run errands and don’t want to leave your pooch home alone, bring him to doggie daycare.
- Limit exercise on hot days
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
- Safe Travels
Unfamiliar surroundings can be unsettling to your pup. Summertime can mean travel or new places to explore. Err on the side of caution by keeping your dog on-leash in any new environment. If you’re traveling, take your vet’s contact info with you and get a recommendation for a vet in your destination area. A collar with identity tags is good protection in case the pet gets lost, but a microchip is even better. Having both is best.
By being aware of summer hazards, you and your pet(s) can continue to enjoy a carefree and fun-filled season.