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Jul 31, 2018

Summer Pet Safety

Diane Grigg Finley


Eddie, Bleu and Wilson.

When planning summer vacation – a day trip, overnight or an extended vacation – many of us want to bring along our companion animals. As bona fide members of the family, we want to share our summer experiences with them, but it’s important to consider their safety and well-being.

Many animals prefer the comfort of home and that is where they are safest. Other animals enjoy spending time with us: hiking, camping, on boats or at the beach. It is vital to regard some safety tips and information so that everyone – whether two-legged or four-legged – has a positive summer experience.

Most cats do not acclimate to changing situations. But many loyal canines, man’s best friend, will eagerly hop in the car for the next adventure. As you pack for your animal, remember these things to keep them safe, hydrated, fed and comfortable:

• A copy of your pet’s medical records, especially if daily medications are needed. Your veterinarian can make a copy for little or no cost.

• Prescriptions that are filled and up to date, in the original bottle.

• For extended vacations, alert your veterinarian of your plans, and know where a local vet is located in case of emergency.

• A well-stocked first aid kit that includes hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds, tweezers for splinters and tick removal, an appropriate self-adhesive ace bandage, gauze pads and medical tape (one that will safely adhere to fur), antibiotic ointment, eye wash, and an antihistamine for bee stings and other allergic reactions. Consult your veterinarian for the proper dosage, as many medications are based on current weight.

As our best friends hop in the car, consider the possibility of motion sickness. Many animals travel rather well, but even the most seasoned traveler can experience occasional car sickness. Know the signs: excessive drooling, dry heaving, vomiting, indiscriminate urination and defecation, shaking, whining and overall restlessness. If any of these symptoms occur, pull the car over and take a travelling break.

In the state of NJ, seat belts are required for dogs and cats in a moving vehicle unless they are safety secured in an appropriate crate, according to Drivers can face fines of $250 to $1,000.

And please: Never, never, never leave an animal in a hot car! The temperature can elevate quickly to 100 to 120 degrees and cause heat stroke and possible death.

If you take your pet on a boat, make sure your animal companion has a life jacket. Too many pets jump into the water and don’t know how to swim properly.

Sunburn is also an issue when we take our animals to the beach. Find out from your veterinarian what sunscreen is best for vulnerable areas. Avoid hot sand, because burned paws are uncomfortable and difficult to take care of.

Most importantly, have your best friend microchipped. This quick, noninvasive procedure can mean life or death for an animal that might run off either on the trail, campsite or wherever your destination lies. So many lost animals without identification are euthanized. Remember, collars can come off, but a microchip – as small as a piece of rice – can bring your animal back to you quickly and safely.

Using a short leash enables furry companions to stay close to us. A wandering animal can encounter many things, such as snakes and other animals. Many plants are extremely toxic, and dogs especially like to munch on anything that is green. A short leash will lessen the chance they might get hurt.

Keep your pet a safe distance away from a campfire. And if you plan to make s’mores, know that chocolate is extremely toxic to animals. The chemical in chocolate, theobromine, is a stimulant like coffee. Dogs and cats metabolize this chemical differently, so a toxic level can build up very quickly in their bodies, causing vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, seizure and tremors. Foods with a high sugar content, like marshmallows, can cause pancreatitis, a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed, requiring medical attention. Bring along some delicious appropriate treats for your pet.

If our pets are safe and happy, then we’re safe and happy. Plan your summer activities with your best friend in mind, making safety being the number one priority. The more you have covered, the less chance you will encounter any problems. Safety first, fun next.