Summer can be a fantastic time for dogs and their owners. Good weather means outdoors fun, swimming, and days out. It means better conditions for walking. In Australia, however, it can also mean extremes of heat which can be harmful to your pet.
Just as we humans suffer from the heat and humidity during summer, so do our pets – especially dogs. For the wellbeing of your dog, you need to always be mindful of his welfare over the warmer months.
Here are some summer dangers to be aware of for all pets – dogs (and cats) in particular:
• Dehydration – your pet must always have unrestricted access to fresh, cool drinking water, in and outside. Dogs will also enjoy ice cubes and frozen chicken or beef broth during summer.
• Sunburn – pets can get burnt by the sun too. Lighter or white coated animals are most at risk, and it can cause pain, peeling, itching, and the development of skin cancers. Use a waterproof sunscreen made for babies or pets on the ear tips, nose, around the mouth, and on the back.
• Heat Stroke – this is a medical emergency. The dog’s body temperature rises too high, and a dog with heatstroke needs to be seen by a vet immediately. Signs include staring, panting, anxiety, warm and dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, refusal to obey commands, vomiting, and collapse.
• Burned feet – hot roads, footpaths, sand, tiles and other surfaces can literally burn your pet’s foot pads. If it would be painful for you to walk or sit, it will be for your dog. Only walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the ground is cooler. Make sure there are cool shady spots for your dog during the day, and always have food and water bowls located in shady areas.
• Parasites – summer is the prime season for ticks and fleas. Keep up to date with flea and tick repellent treatments, and check their coat regularly for pests.
• Fireworks displays – celebratory fireworks displays may be great for people, but they are terrifying for pets. So are summer thunderstorms. Animals can actually develop phobias of these. Frightened pets can behave destructively, escape, and get lost. Display a caring attitude to your frightened pet and make sure they are secure in your yard. Even better, bring them inside. Always have your pet microchipped, and wearing an ID tag. Be aware, too, that dogs and cats hear storms approaching up to an hour before humans can.
• Snakes – in many areas, even the suburbs, snakes become active and appear in back yards during spring and summer. (We will cover this topic in full another time).
• Chlorine – don’t allow your dog to drink large amounts from a chlorinated swimming pool. It can upset his stomach. If your dog swims in chlorinated water, rinse with fresh water afterwards – chlorine can irritate the skin.
• Poisonous plants – many beautiful summer plants are toxic to pets. (Lilies, for example, will kill a cat with only a small amount of exposure. Other plants to avoid at all costs around cats include ivy, hydrangea, and gladiola). Signs of toxic plant ingestion include vomiting, drooling, lethargy, and seizure.
Next week we will look at specific tips for keeping your pet safe over summer.