Paws for Thought…Summer Safety for our Pets

With summer just around the corner, we often find many reasons to spend more time outdoors—working in the yard, grilling out with friends, sipping an iced tea on the back porch. Our pets often join us on our outdoor excursions, enjoying both our company and the freedom to sniff every last inch of the back yard, bark at the neighbors, or try to beg for a morsel or two from the burgers on the grill. Now is a great time to “summerize” our four-footed friends to ensure their happiness throughout the hot summer months. Here are some tips to keep our canine companions’ tails wagging:

1. Make sure that your pets are protected from fleas and ticks. Just one flea can cause misery—itching, hair pulling, dermatitis, or flea-bite anemia. Even if your pet is currently flea-free, fleas may enter your yard from roaming cats, wandering squirrels, etc. Today’s flea remedies are simple and easy to use—messy powders and sprays are a thing of the past. Ask your veterinarian which product they recommend.

2. Mark your calendars to be sure you give your pet his heartworm preventative on time! Mosquitoes are the vectors that carry heartworm. One bite from an infected mosquito can be potentially life threatening to your dog. A simple blood test to determine if your dog has already been infected will be required to buy preventative if your dog hasn’t been tested within the last year or if you have missed any doses.

3. Start off the summer right for your pet with a bath and manicure. A summer clip really isn’t necessary—most long coated breeds have an undercoat that insulates them from both heat and cold.

4. Make sure that your pet has a source of cool fresh water available in the yard at all times. Watering options include self-watering dishes, as well as devices that attach directly to your water spigot.

5. A shady retreat for your pet is a must! Provide shelter in the form of a doghouse, an open umbrella, or even a canopy under a tree. Dogs will often dig a shallow hole for themselves in the shade in an effort to cool off.

6. Limit heavy exercise for your pet to the coolest parts of the day. Our pets do not have the ability to judge when enough is enough—we have to do that for them. Some of the more fanatical retrievers will drop of heat exhaustion before they will ever drop the ball!

7. Even your pets will enjoy a trip the lake for a swim, but, once again, use your best judgment about what is safe for them. Don’t throw retrieving toys too far out in the water—your dog may become exhausted from swimming or may even find itself in the path of a watercraft. If you take your pet boating, a doggie life preserver is an especially smart idea.

8. When your green thumb takes over, choose new plants for your garden carefully. Many plants common to the garden are toxic to our pets. Carolina Jessamine, for example, is very toxic. Consult the local garden center about specific plants. Be wary of plants with thorns, such as barberries. These shrubs can easily scratch eyes or cause puncture wounds.

9. Finally, supervise your pet carefully. Things we take for granted can be hazardous to our pets. Many dogs have received severe burns to the mouth and face from trying to steal hotdogs and hamburgers from the grill. Fireworks are another source of burns for some dogs.

With a little time and forethought, our canine companions can add much to our enjoyment of the summer months. Let’s make sure to do our part to make the summer enjoyable for them as well. Have a safe and happy summer!