Pets love the summer for many reasons—the whole family is together, tantalizing smells rise from the backyard grill, and the long days are for lazy lounging. Yet, for many pets, summer can pose serious risks and result in unexpected veterinary emergencies. The team at Somerset Animal Hospital is here with a helpful guide to keep your pets safe and healthy this summer.
#1: Lost pets
Nothing is more tragic than a lost pet. Sadly, more pets go missing in the summer—especially on July Fourth—than any other time of year. They go missing for numerous reasons, including fear of fireworks, unlatched gates, open windows, inattentive house guests, and off-leash activities. Always pay attention to your pet’s whereabouts, ensure they wear a collar with ID tags at all times, and have them microchipped.
#2: Heat and pets
Keep your pets inside when the temperatures rise. Dogs and cats simply cannot dissipate heat effectively at high temperatures, and their body temperature can quickly climb when they are outdoors on hot days. Always provide plenty of fresh water and shade, and limit outdoor activity to the cooler dawn and dusk hours. Know the signs of heatstroke—heavy panting, drooling, high heart and respiratory rates, mental dullness, seizures, and collapse—and seek help immediately for your pet exhibiting any of these signs.
#3: Fireworks and dogs
Some dogs and cats react with fear and anxiety to the booms and pops of fireworks. Talk to our veterinarians about your pet’s behavior and ask whether they would recommend anti-anxiety medication. Keep your pet indoors on the night of July Fourth, preferably in a quiet room where they cannot see the flashing fireworks outside. Provide your pet with a comfortable bed, and turn on some music to drown out the frightening noises as much as possible.
#4: Foreign body ingestion in pets
Summer means corn on the cob and barbecue and, unfortunately, that also means many dogs will be consuming corn cobs and meat bones that can cause gastric and intestinal blockages or perforations. These objects often require emergency surgery for removal, and hospitalization for after-care. Never feed your dog corn-on-the-cob or meat bones of any kind, and keep all trash cans tightly closed and inaccessible to your dog.
#5: Gastrointestinal issues in pets
We know you want your pet’s holiday to be special, too, but you will regret feeding them greasy, sugary, or fatty foods to express your love. Pets’ digestive systems are not built to handle many of the foods people indulge in, and small amounts can lead to diarrhea, stomach upset, and vomiting. Keep your pet on their regular diet during any holiday celebrations.
#6: Travel with pets
When you hit the road, ensure that your pet is secure. The safest place in the car for cat carriers is on the floor behind the front seats, if possible. Confine dogs in their crates, or use seat belts adjusted to fit your dog snugly so they don’t slip out. Crates can be secured with straps or bungee cords to prevent them from falling or rolling over. Travel with water from home to prevent gastrointestinal issues. Take your pet’s vaccine records, and know the contact information of a veterinarian at your destination. Also, ensure your pet wears a collar and ID at all times.
#7: Pools and pets
Backyard pools are great fun for dogs if they are supervised and the pool is securely fenced. Many pets drown in pools every year after falling in or swimming unattended. Pools should be fenced for the safety of pets and children, and gates should be locked when the pool is unattended by an adult.
#8: Toxins and pets
Pets are always curious about what their owners are doing—especially in the summer, they stay busy keeping up. Be aware of summer pet toxins, such as fireworks, pool chemicals, weed killer, lawn products, rodent bait, alcohol, grapes, and wild mushrooms, and keep them inaccessible to pets.
#9: Dog fights
At outdoor events and parks, dogs are seemingly everywhere. Unfortunately, that means dog fights. Always keep your dog leashed and be aware of your surroundings. Do not let your dog approach unfamiliar dogs. If you are not sure how your dog will behave, leave your dog at home during big social gatherings.
#10: Parasites and pets
Summer is a baby boom of fleas and ticks, and mosquitoes that carry heartworm disease. Keep your pet safe and parasite-free with a prescription preventive, ensuring you follow directions. Have your pet tested for heartworm disease and screened for tick-borne diseases annually.
Whether your summer plans take you and your pet far from home, or only as far as your backyard, Somerset Animal Hospital is here for your pet. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, purchase flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products, or to discuss any summer safety concerns.