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Jul 01, 2017

Summer Tips for Pet Owners

By Garden State Veterinary Specialists

The start of summer is here, which means it’s time for barbecues, the beach, and other outdoor adventures for you and your pet. As the weather starts to heat up, be sure to keep in mind the following safety tips for your four-legged family members.

When taking your pet out in the heat, always be sure to have some source of water on you or where you are going. Dogs should have clean, fresh water available to them at all times. You can assess if your pet becomes dehydrated by touching the gums in their mouth to see if they start to feel tacky and by gently lifting the skin behind their head to see if it is too slow in returning to its normal position. Side effects of dehydration include lethargy, weakness, and sunken eyes. If mild dehydration is present, it can be reversed with small amounts of water for your pet to drink over time. With more severe cases, veterinary care should be sought out immediately so that IV fluids may be provided for more efficient rehydration.

Overheating can occur due to prolonged exposure to, or physical exertion in, high temperatures. Dogs are different from people in that they can’t sweat, so they have to pant to release heat, and therefore, can’t cool off as efficiently. In order to prevent this, running and walking with your pet should ideally be done in the morning or late afternoon; shade and ventilation should be provided as needed. Frequent stops for water should always be considered. Leaving your pet in a car is especially dangerous, since in a short period of time, the temperature inside the car can increase by 20 to 40 degrees, even when it is relatively mild outside and the windows are cracked open. Dogs with shorter noses, heart or lung disease, and/or an overweight body condition are at a higher risk of heat stroke due to their decreased breathing ability. Symptoms are excessive panting, salivating, staggering, vomiting, and diarrhea. Heat stroke can be life-threatening and result in death if not treated. If you suspect heat stroke, your pet should receive immediate veterinary care. Soaking them in cool water until they can receive medical attention is helpful.

Sunburns most commonly occur in non-pigmented areas of the skin and areas without hair on dogs, such as the ears, nose, and underside of the stomach. Sunscreen lotion is available, but be wary since your pet may lick it off. Aloe can also be used with mild burns; however, if severe burns occur, your pet should be treated by a veterinarian. Additionally, when taking your pet outside, try to walk on grass or mud as opposed to hotter surfaces that could burn the pads of their feet. The best prevention method is, as with heat stroke and dehydration, to provide sufficient shade.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of the advice of a veterinarian.