Change-of-Season Dangers for Pets and Owners
You know not to leave your pet in the car, but do you know of the other pet hazards that come with the new warm weather? Here are some tips to keep summer safe for ALL the family.
For most of us, we look up one day and it is suddenly summertime. With this change of season for you comes some changes for your dog or cat too.
There is a spike in the number of lost dog reports during the summer. Many dogs are terrified of thunder, and will run away in a blind panic trying to find a place to hide. The fourth of July sees a spike in lost dog reports of its own due to loud fireworks.
Humans can help their dogs by being close at hand to provide assurance and comfort, and to make sure their pets do not hurt themselves. Dogs have been known to jump through plate glass windows or to even suffer fatal injuries trying to escape thunder.
Warm weather is when many people travel with their pet. Make sure that the hotel you have chosen is pet-friendly well in advance. See http://www.pet-friendlytravel.com for more info. The site offers a search engine specifically for pet friendly travel facilities, and is an excellent resource. The entire vacation can be ruined if your family is turned away at the desk.
If the family dog suffers from motion sickness, Dramamine can be given to help (call your vet for the proper dosage first). Your vet can also recommend travel medications specifically designed for traveling pets.
Also when traveling with a pet, it is an excellent idea to have your pet micro chipped beforehand. The procedure is no more painful than a shot, costs less than $50, and could save your pets life. Most animal shelters and humane societies scan stray animals for these chips, and it will provide the information needed to reunite you and your pet.
If you are away and have left the pet with a sitter, call daily.
In northern climates, the warm weather brings wild animals into more frequent contact with domestic ones. In southern climates such contact is year-round. Rabies is more prevalent during this time period up north, and pet owners should keep their pets up to date with rabies booster shots. This is also the law almost everywhere.
Southern climates have other challenges. Dr Bart Bryan DVM of Independence Veterinary Clinic in Charlotte wants pet owners to be aware that heartworm prevention is year-round. “In this climate, mosquitoes can be out in January as well as July,” he warns, “and pet owners need to be aware that heartworm treatment is not seasonal.”
Common wild animals such as possums and raccoons usually do not attack domestic pets for food. They are trying to drive a rival predator from their territory so they can have more to eat for themselves. Surprisingly, this danger of attack is greater for cats than for dogs, but all pets need protection from contact with their wild cousins.
Conversely, domestic animals will sometimes bring home wild ones. These captures are usually babies, injured, dead, or sick. Pet owners should not try to handle such animals by themselves; they should contact the wildlife control department of their local police or government immediately.
Dogs, especially smaller breeds, can have a hard time getting out of a swimming pool. Plastic baby pools can be a deathtrap for a small dog, and are the worst offenders.
Check the collar on your pet. It should only be tight enough to prevent the head from pulling out, and no tighter. A too-tight collar can restrict the panting pets need to cool themselves, or can cut into the skin. Your pet may have gained weight over the winter, tightening the gap. Take choke collars off when not being used for walking or training.
It is flea and tick season, and time to treat for them. Fleas can cause anemia in the worst cases, and ticks carry Lyme disease. Both pests cause misery. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it with tweezers, and swab the wound with alcohol. There is never a need to use flame to burn out a tick.
A dog can get heatstroke by being tied up in direct sun. Having a bowl of water is not enough as the water can get spilled, consumed, or get hot in your absence. Deep shade is necessary for the well being of outdoor dogs in summer.
Take your dog for walks in the cool of the morning or evening, never in the full heat of the summer day. Joggers should consider not running with their dogs, humans have a far greater heat tolerance than canines, and heatstroke will happen to them much faster.
Going to the beach with your dog? Take a pair of scissors. The burrs that grow along the beach are very difficult to remove. Sand fleas may also be a problem, so give your dog their flea and tick treatment as scheduled. Take along a supply of plastic bags to clean up after your dog.
Seasonal to-do list
- Buy your pet a new collar once a year. The material of choice is woven nylon, which is tough, hygienic, and soft to the skin. It also comes in high-visibility colors for safety. Remember, the collar is more for your pet than for yourself, and your dog does not have a fashion sense.
- If you have a dog run that uses a cable and pulley system, take it all down every other year or so and discard. As the materials corrode from exposure, they could catch or otherwise lock in position.
- Take your dog for walks, not runs. If this is your habit, it may be better for your pet to temporarily stop during the hot season, and take it up again when things cool down.
- Trim your dog"s coat shorter than you normally would, but do not shave it off. Fur provides protection from sunburn.
- If you have not had your pet into the vet in a year, take them in anyway for an annual wellness exam. Pets are tough, but they cannot tell you if anything is wrong.
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