Keep your pets safe and happy this summer
By Brent Honcharenko
Things have changed over the past few years and bringing our pets with us when we travel is commonplace. You may see a pet riding in the shopping cart at stores like Home Depot or your local pet supply store. There are even designated pet-themed events in different communities and occasionally at major or minor league stadiums.
Our pets are part of our family, so many of us would like to include them in our activities. If we want to enjoy the outdoors and summer weather, then why shouldn’t they? Right? Before bringing your animal out into the world with you, here are a few things to consider.
Fireworks and other loud noises
It’s that time of year again! Independence Day is right around the corner, and some fireworks are bound to be set off here and there. Many pets can get frightened and disoriented by these loud, startling noises – in fact, more pets go missing, get lost, and end up in shelters during this time of year than any other. To make the holiday weekend a better experience for your pet, here are some suggestions:
- Find a quiet, secure place inside which they can relax with you as a safe haven.
- Turn up the radio or TV volume to help muffle the noise outside.
- Play or cuddle with your pet to help distract and comfort them.
- Make sure your pet has a proper ID tag.
- Check that your pet’s microchip information is up to date.
- Try calming options such as CBD oil, calming vests, or plug-in diffusers.
- Prepare your pet by building a positive association with firework sounds.
- If nothing helps your pet during this season, you may want to, seek expert advice.
Traveling with Pets
Whether on land or water, slowly and positively introducing your pet to vehicular travel is essential. First, work on conditioning your pet to be comfortable with the vehicle you’re traveling in – both in and around the vessel. Then, you can start by going on short rides to see if your animal becomes nauseous or anxious.
When animals are in a vehicle, it’s important to ensure they are secure – either with a harness on, in a crate, or wearing a lifejacket. And most importantly, never leave your pet in an unattended enclosed vehicle, even for just a few minutes. Even outdoor temperatures as mild as 70 degrees can cause enclosed vehicle temperatures to reach upwards of 116 degrees within a very short amount of time.
Who doesn’t love a beach or boat day? While many pets love the water, they are not natural-born swimmers, so it’s important to always introduce swimming and water slowly and positively, just like most things. You know your pet best, so they will rely on you to read the signs they give you regarding their comfort level with new activities! Activities that make them uncomfortable may cause uncharacteristic behavior that can frighten you or people around you. Additionally, regardless of their water experience level, never leave your pet unattended in or near the water. Be especially careful letting them swim in rivers with currents or oceans with tide changes.
Additionally, be aware of the dangers of blue-green algae. Warnings have increased tremendously over the past few years, and those warnings should not be ignored. The algae blooms are often found in non-flowing bodies of water, and it can have a thick, pea soup appearance, or it may be multi-colored (green, blue, red, or brown) and look like paint poured on the water surface. Alternatively, the algae can be in the form of foamy scum layers with blobs. Blue-green algae can be fatal to animals if ingested in high concentrations. Dogs are more susceptible to ingesting the toxic substance because they tend to play or swim in infested water. If your pet does become exposed to the algae, rinse them off immediately with clean water before it has a chance to lick itself, and call your veterinarian.
Exercising is vital for your pet, but it’s also important to consider the outside temperature before taking Fido out for a run. High humidity and heat can bring multiple concerns for loving pet owners.
Remember, animals all wear permanent fur coats. Imagine yourself wearing a fur coat on a hot summer day. It’s pretty toasty, right? Your first instinct is probably to take the coat off, because you’re sweating like crazy under there. Unlike humans, dogs and cats can’t take off their coats – or sweat to help cool their bodies down. So, cats and dogs rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose. Cats also groom themselves to cool off.
Perhaps you have an animal that loves to be outdoors on the hottest and most humid days of the year. That’s okay – trust your animal to show you what they need and provide them with helpful resources to make the most of their favorite weather. Animals should be provided with shade, fresh water, and a cool surface to lounge on to help their inner cooling systems work more efficiently and avoid overheating. Be aware of the signs of heatstroke in your animals before venturing outdoors on hot days so you can be prepared if it happens to your beloved pet!
Also, keep in mind the heat of concrete and asphalt on your animal’s paws. The surface temperature of asphalt measures 40-60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. So, for example, if it’s sunny with an air temperature of 77 degrees, the asphalt surface could be as hot as 137 degrees! This will burn your animal’s paw pads assuredly.
At the end of the day, while being cautious is important during whatever activity suits your fancies this sunny season, it’s important to make memories too. So go ahead – take a hike, go to the dog park, play fetch, drive to the beach, watch the sunset together, and lounge on the deck. Just make sure it’s what you both want to do.