Summer Safety Tips for Your Pet

Prevent deadly heatstroke by helping your dog stay cool when summer temperatures soar. (Photo by Dana Edelson)

Prevent deadly heatstroke by helping your dog stay cool when summer temperatures soar. (Photo by Dana Edelson)

For most pet owners, summertime is ripe with opportunities to enjoy more leisure time with our pets. A fun summer is a safe summer, so be sure you’re taking every precaution to ensure the safety and well-being of your pets.

At Home

Be sure your pets always have access to clean, cool water. Adding ice cubes to the water bowl can help keep it cool in hot weather.

If possible, make sure your pets have access to air conditioning or fans. Like people, pets can suffer from the heat, especially if they are very young, old, or have medical conditions.

Check window screens to make sure they’re secure. You don’t want your pets to escape, or fall or jump from a window.

Outdoors

Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car, even for a minute! Even at moderate temperatures, with a window opened slightly, a parked car can heat up dramatically and pose an immediate danger to your pet’s health. Your pet can become overheated quickly, and suffer heatstroke. If you see a pet in a parked car, immediately seek out a police officer or call 911 for help. Read more about what to do if you see a pet in a hot car.

Don’t walk your dog during the hottest parts of the day. Your dog can become overheated — especially if he or she is very young, old, or has a health condition. Heatstroke, sunburn, and scorched paw pads can result from too much heat or sun exposure. When you take your dog outside in the sunshine, provide appropriate protection, which can include a loose-fitting t-shirt, hat or other head covering, and protection for vulnerable paw pads.

How to Recognize Heatstroke and What You Should Do

Heatstroke is a medical emergency, and can be fatal. Signs of heatstroke include panting, staring, anxious expression, refusal to obey commands, warm, dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, call a veterinarian immediately. You can try to lower your pet’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body, but it is crucial that you get your pet to a veterinarian immediately, where treatment will probably include cooling techniques, intravenous fluid therapy to counter shock, and/or medication.

   

Carry a bottle of water with you when you’re out on a walk. A collapsible water dish or other drinking apparatus is also a good item to have on hand for the walk. And a caution about antifreeze: Your dog might be tempted to drink from puddles in the street in hot weather. But puddles can contain antifreeze leaked from overheated cars and other chemicals that have a sweet taste that animals like — and they are extremely toxic. Steer your dog away from puddles and other potentially dangerous substances.

Never leave your dog outside a store while you duck inside. Your pet can get loose or be stolen in an instant.

Make sure your pets are appropriately protected against fleas, ticks, and mosquitos. Discuss your pet’s needs with your veterinarian.

Keep your dog on-leash at all times outdoors except in enclosed dog runs and approved off-leash areas of the park. And always supervise your dog’s activities, even in off-leash areas. As a responsible pet owner, it’s up to YOU to protect your dog from negative interactions with other dogs or people, as well as preventing your dog from ingesting dangerous substances, such as antifreeze, tainted food, and lawn chemicals.

Keep your pets away from fireworks displays. Period. Animals do not like fireworks! They become frightened and will try to escape! Read more about keeping your pets safe on the Fourth of July, and learn what to do if you lose your pet or find a lost pet.

Vacation Planning with Your Pets in Mind

Purchase an ID tag and include one or two phone numbers on it. This can make it easy for anyone who finds your dog or cat to contact you. Inexpensive tags are available at most pet supply stores.

Microchip your pets. A microchip provides a permanent form of ID that can’t fall off or be removed. You can have your dog or cat microchipped at a Mayor’s Alliance low-cost microchipping clinic, and we’ll handle the registration for you. Or, you can ask your vet to microchip you pets; just remember that you’ll need to register the chips with the microchipping company. Be sure your contact information is up-to-date. Check online or call the microchip company to verify or update your information.

License your dog. A dog license provides another good form of identification that can be used to reunite you with your lost dog. If you live in New York City, you’re required by law to license your dog. It’s easy: complete an application online at DogTagsNYC.org or call 311 and ask for a dog license application by mail.

Keeping your cat at home indoors with secure window screens to prevent escape and cooling fans and air conditioning is the best way to ensure her summer safety. (Photo by Krista Menzel)

Keeping your cat at home indoors with secure window screens to prevent escape and cooling fans and air conditioning is the best way to ensure her summer safety. (Photo by Krista Menzel)

If you’re taking a pet along on your trip, be sure to pack everything your pet needs, including medications, copies of vaccination records, any special food your pet requires that you might not be able to purchase during your travels, necessary bedding, toys, a water bottle — everything you’ll need to make your pet feel at home in a new environment.

If your pet remains behind, be sure to provide your pet sitter with all these same supplies and a list of important phone numbers, including where to reach you, your vet, an emergency vet hospital, and a backup sitter should the need arise.

Bear in mind that dogs generally take to the road easier than cats, so unless you’ve successfully traveled together before, you both might be happier if your cat stays behind in the care of a trusted person. If you plan to travel with a pet and your trip includes air travel, we strongly recommend that you only bring your pet with you if he can accompany you in the plane’s cabin.

Fun Things to Do With (and For) Your Pets This Summer

Trips to the beach, the park, or even the agility run at a local training facility can be super fun for your dog — and they’re outings that you both can enjoy together.

If your dog likes to hike, take him with you when you head for the hills this summer! If you’re heading to the beach with your dog, be sure to provide adequate sun protection, including a t-shirt and head cover. And remember, too much sun exposure isn’t good for you or your dog!

Keep cats indoors year-round! Provide entertainment by hanging a bird feeder outside a window — your cats will be captivated for hours!

Purchase a new cat dancer or another interactive toy that you and your cats can enjoy together.

And No Matter What the Season…

Make sure your pets are spayed or neutered! It’s good for their health, and eliminates the possibility of unwanted puppies or kittens. Find out where you can go to have your pets spayed or neutered in NYC.

   

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