Spring and summer are ideal for spending time outdoors with animals, but can it also cause them discomfort.
Leading retailer and pets service company PetSmart have issued ways in which dog and pet owners can safely enjoy the warmer months outdoors with their animals. Their suggestions help owners to keep their animals cool, hydrated and free from ticks.
The heat, sun and water can all pose health risks for animals.
Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert said: “Summertime is the perfect time to head outside and have fun with your pets. But when it comes to things like hot temperatures and water activities, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind to keep pets protected.”
When pets are spending time outdoors in the warm weather, they need plenty of shade and fresh water. An elevated place to lay that allows air flow is said to be a good idea and kids paddling pools can be great for dogs.
Grassy areas can save paws from getting too hot or becoming burnt on pavements and other hard surfaces. Dog walking is better in the cooler hours during the morning or evening, with some time indoors during the hottest parts of the day. Reflective leads, harnesses and boots are also available to be make dogs more visible during the hours of darkness.
“Dog owners should call their veterinarian immediately if during or after outdoor activities they notice excessive panting, sluggish or unresponsive behaviour, vomiting or bloody diarrhoea, or bright red or pale, dry gums as these are all signs of overheating and possible heatstroke,” said Jennifer.
Water and swimming can be dangerous for dogs.
“Dogs may seem like natural born swimmers, but the truth is they need training just like people,” said Jennifer. “I also always recommend having a gated pool when there are new puppies or geriatric or blind dogs in the home as they can fall in the pool and not be able to get out.”
Life jackets are available for dogs which can be worn when near beaches, lakes and pools. Not only can swimming be harmful but there is the added risk of dogs drinking potentially contaminated water. Having drinking water is always important.
It is recommended that dogs and cats wear a collar and can be identified if found. Jennifer said: “It’s important to make sure your pet is microchipped and that it is registered with up-to-date contact information. Dogs are especially prone to escaping during the summer months due to fireworks and storm anxiety.”
The warmer weather also brings fleas, ticks and heartworms with it.
Ticks live in woodland and park environments, especially in long grass. They can be fatal for animals and should be checked for regularly.
“Monthly flea and tick preventatives are highly recommended and can prevent the spread of disease,” said Jennifer. “It’s also important to have your pets on heartworm preventatives as that is a disease transmitted by mosquitos which are more active during the hot summer months.”