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Summertime Pet Hazards and Helpful Hints

Summertime means cookouts, vacations, pool parties and increased dangers to our pets. The most obvious of summertime pet hazards is the mercury. Baby, it’s hot outside!

Pets overheat quickly, even if left in a car “just a few moments.” Hot pavement or sand can burn paw pads. Exercising can cause heat exhaustion/ heat stroke. And just like us, pets can sunburn.

Dogs pant to stay cool. Long, dense fur acts as an insulator. Brushing out old hair aids their cooling process. All pets should have cool, fresh water and shade when outside. Test to see if your hand or bare foot can tolerate the hot pavement or sand before making your dog traverse it, or try using booties. Ask your vet if your pet could benefit from sunscreen.

It’s also important to increase your pet’s fluid intake. Offer ice cubes. Or try pupscicles. Cut hard cheese into one inch cubes, place in a plastic container and fill with broth. Once frozen, give to your pet to lick, working to get to the cheese inside. It will keep them occupied and give them additional fluids.

Using ice cube trays in your freezer, try these other cool pet treats: Puree watermelon, coconut milk and honey, pour into trays and freeze. Chop two apples, (removing core and seeds), blend with 1 cup plain yogurt and splash of water and freeze. Blend 1 can pumpkin, 1 cup yogurt, 1 teaspoon honey, a banana and freeze. Or blend peanut butter (make sure the peanut butter doesn’t contain xylitol) with a bit of water, pour into a Bundt cake pan, sprinkle with flax seeds and mixed berries. Freeze, toss in yard, then watch your pet happily play with her food!

Many people assume all dogs swim. Some are naturals. Some have inherent problems that hinder, like obesity or injury from falling. Dogs can also become disoriented if they fall off a boat. Consider a doggie floatation device, maybe even with a rope tied to it for reeling in, if necessary.

At the beach be sure to wash off salt after romping through the surf. Pool chlorine and bacteria from lakes are never safe for Fido to drink. Always offer fresh water instead.

At cookouts, keep pets away from all people, food and drink, decorations and trash. A small sample of hot dog or hamburger might be fine, but never overdo it. And make sure cats and dogs never have unsupervised access to open doors or windows. This is a great time to ensure every pet is collared and has a current ID.

Fat trimmings can cause pancreatitis. Long fur can catch on fire. A corn cob can become stuck in the intestines, becoming deadly. Bones can splinter or become a choke danger. Keep onions, garlic, grapes, and raisins away. Avoid feeding fruits with pits like peaches and avocados, because the pit can cause choking. Beware of toothpicks and skewers that could pierce the esophagus or intestines. And some pets can be lactose intolerant and become ill if fed ice cream. Try pet ice cream from the grocer’s freezer.

At community events, dogs can become disoriented or overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. Use a sturdy leash and watch for signs of trouble. Have water and bowl available. If you are viewing fireworks, leave Fido at home unless he is immune to the popping. Many dogs are scared of fireworks. One of shelters’ busiest days is July 5th.  Some home fireworks resemble sticks and a stick-loving dog might be tempted to grab a hot sizzler and get burned. Clean up spent fireworks to keep curious pets from playing with toxic residue or warm embers.

There are many things poisonous to our pets: engine coolant, rodent poison, citronella candles, insecticides, fertilizer, herbicides are just a few. Always have the poison control and your veterinarian’s numbers handy. The APSCA Poison Control Center hotline is 1-888-426-4435.

Fleas, ticks, flies and snakes are just some of the pests pets are exposed to on hikes in the woods. Taking our dog out to more public places increases their risk of heartworm, intestinal worms and Bordetella. Talk to your vet about what precautions your pet will need based on your summertime plans with your furry friend.

Author and animal lover Ryan Jo Summers lives in Hendersonville with her menagerie of pets, including cats, a rescue collie and a very talkative macaw. Her written work can be seen at her website, blog and Facebook

photo credit: Go! via photopin (license)

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