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Summer is officially here and the temperatures are heating up all over the Lone Star State. The Houston SPCA offers these helpful hints to help your pet beat the summer heat.
HOT CARS/HEATSTROKE: During the hot summer months, do yourself and your pet a favor and leave them at home instead of unattended in a car for any period of time. The temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked and parked in the shade, can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. If the air becomes too warm, a dog’s body temperature, normally 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, will continue to rise. If it exceeds 106 degrees, heatstroke could result, causing seizures, brain damage and death.
Signs of heatstroke may include: Excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, excessive drooling, staggering, lethargy, shock, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heatstroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately!
EXERCISE: On very hot days, limit a pet’s jog or walk to the early morning or evening hours so they do not suffer heatstroke. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can actually burn your pet’s paws.
HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE: Summertime brings mosquitoes which can transmit heartworm disease inboth dogs and cats. Heartworms are potentially fatal parasites spread through the bite of just one infected mosquito. Both dogs and cats should be on heartworm preventative year-round.
SHELTER: It’s best to leave your pet inside your air-conditioned home. If your pet must stay outside, make sure he / she has adequate shelter with access to plenty of cool, fresh water and shade.
VACCINATIONS: Your pet should be up-to-date on all vaccinations. If you are planning a vacation and your pet will be boarded, make sure to speak with your veterinarian about any additional vaccines he/she recommends for the kennel environment.
FLEAS/TICKS: Fleas are a common problem, but it is possible to get rid of them and prevent further infestations. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate product for your animal and follow all instructions exactly. Many accidental poisonings and deaths happen each year because people use the wrong product on their pet.
WATER/BEACH SAFETY: Keep in mind that not all dogs are excellent swimmers. Always supervise your dog near the pool. At the beach, a strong undertow or riptide can drag a frolicking pet out into the water. Make sure you bring lots of fresh water for your pet to drink. Rinse any sand, salt or chlorine off your pet as soon as possible. Remember that dogs with short hair, white fur and pink skin can sunburn. Make sure to limit their sun exposure and talk to your vet about a pet-safe sunblock you can apply to their ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.
HERBICIDES/PESTICIDES: Plant food, fertilizer and insecticides can be fatal to a pet if ingested. Pet owners should read labels carefully and contact manufacturers for specific recommendations about using certain herbicides and pesticides around pets. In addition, keep your pet away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.
TRAVEL: Check with your airline for their rules on flying pets during the summer months. Many will only fly animals early in the morning or in the evening due to the dangers caused by the hot weather. If you are taking a family vacation by car, make sure to keep your pet cool by putting icepacks in his / her well ventilated crate, bring fresh water and a bowl, pack a tarp so you can create a shady spot when you stop to rest, and keep a spray bottle handy to spritz your dog to keep him / her cool.