Summer Pet Health Tips

June 21st marks the official beginning of summer, making this a good time to review some pet health risks and tips associated with the season.

  1. Be certain your pet has access to fresh clean water at all times.  It is a good idea to have water in multiple locations in the home and clean the bowls regularly so that they don’t grow bacteria.  When you are traveling or taking your pet out with you, be sure to bring water for them.
  2. Know your pet’s heat tolerance.  Normal body temperature for a dog or cat is higher than humans at between 100 and 102.5 degrees but they do not do as well in the heat, especially if they become dehydrated.
  3. Never leave your pet in a vehicle.  It can take just minutes for the temperature inside your car to reach dangerous levels even if you have the windows opened or if it doesn’t feel that hot outside.  This is also considered illegal in many states.
  4. Discard any uneaten food.  Bacteria grows much faster when it is warm out and you don’t want your pet coming back for unsafe food.  Feed your pet smaller portions more often if necessary.
  5. Know what is toxic to your pet. Plants as well as household items and foods such as chocolate, onions, coffee, nicotine, alcoholic beverages, poultry bones, fatty foods and grapes/raisins can all be harmful.  Click here for a complete list of foods and common household items considered dangerous to your pet.
  6. Keep pet ID and contact information on your pet. Pets are more active in the summer, chase other animals, can be with you traveling in an unfamiliar place — and end up lost. The pet’s name and your phone number (cell is usually the fastest way to reach you) on its collar can be a lifesaver.  You may also want to consider microchipping your pet since this cannot be lost and has a proven history of pet recovery.
  7. Check your pet for fleas, ticks, and mites. Check and groom your pet daily to ensure that they do not have fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm (from mosquitoes), bites, or other infections or rashes from being outdoors.
  8. Groom your pet daily. Grooming your pet regularly will help it stay cooler, provide inspection for health problems and reduce hairballs in cats.
  9. Walk pets in the early morning or evening. Try to walk or exercise your pet in the morning or early evening when it is cooler.
  10. Keep fish tanks away from sunlight. The temperature of fish is directly affected by water temperature. If the water heats up it can become harmful or fatal to the fish.
  11. Not all dogs are excellent swimmers by nature especially if they have health problems.  Consider protecting your pet on a boat with a life jacket just as you would for your children.  If your pet is knocked off of the boat (perhaps getting injured in the process), or is tired/cold from choppy water or sudden storm, a life jacket could be what saves your pet’s life.
  12. If your traveling away from home and in particular to remote locales, it is good practice to research where the nearest veterinarian can be found in the event of an emergency.
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