The snow has finally melted, the ice is all gone and summer has finally arrived! The long days of summer are a fantastic time to have a pet but, this glorious season is not without its hazards and knowing what to look out for is half the battle. Let’s spend a little time discussing some scenarios we see at the clinic during this time of year.
Let’s start with a classic – don’t leave you pets in the car – even for short periods of time. The quickest way to get your furry little friends into trouble is to leave them in a parked car. Have you ever wondered how hot it gets in a parked car? Dr. Ernie Ward – America’s Pet Advocate – has a very eye-opening video showing just that. Within 10 minutes, with all four windows cracked open the car was a stifling 38 degrees Celsius. Can you imagine what it would be like in that car, especially covered in fur?!? Heat stroke can happen very quickly and can be a killer. Heat stroke isn’t limited to just vehicles. Limit your pet’s exercise to the coolest part of the day when both you and them can enjoy it. Our pets will follow us to the ends of the earth so it’s up to us to identify when enough is enough. Signs of overheating you should be cautious of in your pet include glassy eyes and frantic panting.
For those green thumbs in the mix it’s important to understand which plants and yard chemicals are toxic. The list is surprisingly large! Check out the ASPCA`s Animal Poison Control Center to be sure your plants are pet-safe. When using pesticides and fertilizers, always follow the labelled directions and let them dry before allowing pets access to the yard. Signs can be placed to ensure the safety of other pets as well. Snail and rodent bait can also kill pets, so ensure that they are placed in areas that your pet does not have access to.
With many people coming in and out of the house with friends, pets have more opportunities to escape. The best way to avoid this hazard is through prevention. Some of our pets are Houdini and find the smallest of holes in fences, be sure to find them before they do and fix them. Installing self-closing gates are an easy way to prevent doors from accidentally staying open. It is essential that all pets have some form of identification for that off chance that they do escape. Forms of identification include ID tags, rabies tags and – my favourite – microchips. All animal shelters and veterinary clinics are equipment with microchip scanners and many pets have been returned to their owners because of them.
If you’re like me, then the highlight of summer is the increased number of long weekends. They can be a perfect time to go camping and to enjoy the outdoors with your pets. It is essential that you leave prepared for accidents that may happen outside. Carrying a first aid kit equipped with bandage material, a tick remover, Polysporin and Benadryl is always a good idea. Cuts and scrapes happen quickly, ticks love long grass and dogs can have allergic reactions to bug bites. Even with due diligence, accidents can happen.
Finally, with long weekends come fireworks. Many pets are terrified of fireworks and we can`t always be there for them during these moments of anxiety and fear. There are a number of products on the market that can help relieve firework related anxiety. Some of my favourites are Thundershirts, Adaptil – a pheromone spray, and melatonin.
The summer can be a wonderful time of year. Being prepared and understanding the do’s and don’ts of summer fun is essential. Now go outside and enjoy this beautiful season!
Dr. Brendon Laing
Town & Country Animal Hospital