Keep Your Animals Safe this Summer!
It’s officially summer, a time of sun and fun! As you take a dog on a hike or walk, or let your cat roam your neighborhood this summer, there are a few things to watch out for to make sure your four-legged friends stay safe and healthy.
While the summer heat may feel welcome to us, it’s important to keep your animals cool and safe during the warmer months!
Things to watch out for:
- Don’t leave your pet in the car! Even if you leave the windows cracked or leave water in the car, temperatures can rise quickly and dramatically inside parked cars, which can be dangerous and even deadly for animals. The Humane Society tells us that “on an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.”
- Keep your pet cool. Whenever your animal is outside, make sure they have access to plenty of water and shade. In heat waves, you can add ice to their water dish both outside and inside.
- Adjust your routine. When it’s particularly hot out, you can adjust how long or intense your dog’s usual walk is. Asphalt can get especially hot, so walking them on grass can be a better option. Both dogs and cats with white ears can be especially susceptible to skin cancers, so limiting their exercise or time outside during the hottest and sunniest times of day is one good way to take care of your animal.
Learn the signs of heatstroke. “Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heatstroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease…If you believe your pet has heatstroke, move them “into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest, or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes” and make sure to contact your veterinarian.
Foxtail plants can grow in fields, along hiking trails and roads, and even in your backyard. While they may look like just another grass, they dry out in the spring and summer and become bristly and sharp.
The barb of the plant (the feathered tip at the end of the stalk) can penetrate an animal’s paw, nose, or skin. And while it’s rarer for an animal to inhale and ingest the foxtail, when this does happen it can prove deadly. Foxtail injuries are more common in dogs than cats, but both can be affected!
So what can you do?
- Keep an eye out! Familiarize yourself with what the plant looks like. Pull up any in your yard (while wearing gloves!), and prevent your animal from getting close to them if you’re out on a walk or hike.
- Keep your animal’s coat short. Because the barb can get stuck in an animal’s fur, it’s good to keep your dog’s coat short this summer. This is especially important around their paws since that’s an area where they can pick up the barbs from the ground.
- Use a hood. While it may not be the best option for everyone, there are breathable mesh “hoods” that work for some dogs. If you live in an area with a lot of foxtails or hike with your dog off-leash, this may be a good option for you!
- Know the signs. Check your animal for barbs after they come inside, especially their paws (they can catch in between their toes) and around their ears. If your animal has a swollen paw, is licking an area more than they usually do, or is squinting, sneezing, or shaking their head after a walk, this can be a sign of a foxtail injury.
If you suspect a foxtail injury, call your veterinarian right away!
Ticks are another outdoor hazard to be aware of. Ticks can carry diseases like Lyme disease, which can affect both humans and animals
What to do:
- Know where they live! Ticks tend to live in higher grasses or brushy and wooded areas. Avoiding those areas (for example, walking in the middle of a hiking trail vs. right on the edge by high grasses) can help.
- Check for ticks when you come inside. Check your animal’s coat (and yourself!) when you come inside.
- Remove ticks if they do attach to your animal. It’s important to get the entire tick, since the head can detach, meaning your animal can still become infected with diseases. This resource from our friends from San Francisco SPCA will talk you through how to remove a tick, step by step.
Flea and Tick Control: There are multiple effective and safe options for topical and oral medications and even long-acting collars. Discuss with your veterinarian to get the appropriate flea and tick control for your pet.
This Summer Safety Guide for Dogs from Better Pet also has some great information and options.
Stay safe and cool out there!
Have questions or other things to watch out for? Share with us below!