Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Pet Care

June Newsletter

Summertime is fun time, but hot weather makes for some unique pet care challenges. Both dogs and cats are at risk to heat and sun exposure, and need a little extra TLC to keep their coats primed and protected. But other dangers, like bugs and lawn fertilizers, pose additional risks for pets. So throughout the season, adapt your pet care routine to protect your pet from summer’s safety threats.

Humans aren’t the only animals that can find a hot summer day overwhelming. Unlike you, however, your pet has a limited ability to deal with the heat. Dogs and cats release heat through their paw pads and by panting—yes, cats pant, just more subtly. Dogs tend to drool as they keep cool, and cats lick themselves to lower body temperature. Dehydration can be a big problem. Make certain that pets always have access to plenty of cool water, and avoid letting them outside during the hottest parts of the day.

Providing your animals with a cool, shady place to rest is essential to summer pet care. Dogs and cats, particularly those with short, fine hair and pink skin, are susceptible to sunburn. Prolonged sun exposure for any pet can result in skin cancer, so it’s important to manage their time in the sun. Dogs and cats are most susceptible to sun damage at their ears, nose, and lips, where less fur protects the skin. Short summer haircuts are essential to keeping your pet comfortable, but they increase sun exposure. Talk to your veterinarian before applying any type of sunscreen—some are not safe for pets! When you find the right one, apply before exposure, and reapply often.

Another summer pet safety issue is the presence of ticks and other insects. Not only can bugs carry disease, but the ways people ward them off can cause problems for your indoor-outdoor pet’s health. Fertilizers and pesticides may help keep a lawn looking great, but they can be very dangerous for your pet. In areas where your pets play, it’s better to keep the grass cut short to reduce ticks and other insects. Talk to your vet about how to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and other insects more prevalent during summer months.

Keep an eye out for toxic hazards when you’re outside with your pets. Fertilizer warnings on the edge of a lawn are a good signal to stay away, and you should also keep an eye out under cars. Anti-freeze can leak when cars overheat, leaving puddles that your dog or cat can easily lap up. The sweet taste of anti-freeze is tempting to pets and, but this toxic substance is potentially lethal.

Finally, although it can be an enormous amount of fun to bring your dog to the beach or pool, always keep a close eye when he’s in or near the water. Even a strong swimmer could have trouble getting out of a pool or get trapped in ropes and other obstacles.

Enjoying a safe summer with your pets is all about thinking ahead. Watch over them the way you would a small child—protect them from too much heat, sun, and other summer dangers—and everything should be just fine. Summer pet safety isn’t hard. It just requires some thought and attention.

Quick Tip for Dogs: Buy a doggie life preserver! If you are going to take your dog boating or swimming, a dog life preserver is an excellent investment for his safety.

Quick Tip for Cats: Break out the kitty brush and get busy! Cats shed more in hot weather. Regular brushing gets rid of loose hair and helps control hairballs.

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