Health Department

Summer Pet Health

Summer Pet Health
by Larry D. Jones, MPH
July 30, 2013

For many of us, our pet is a member of our family, so we want to spend as much time as possible with them during this time of vacations and pool parties. Summer, though, can be a dangerous time for our four-legged friends, so here are a few simple tips to keep your pet healthy and happy during these hot summer months.

  1. Never leave your pet alone in your car—even with the windows rolled down. Vehicles heat up very quickly in the sun and can cause heat stroke within minutes. Signs of heat stroke include heavy breathing, staggering gait, and a bright red tongue or gums. If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary care immediately.
  2. Make sure your pet has access to clean, fresh water and a cool, shady location to sleep at all times. Older animals and short-headed dogs (like bulldogs) are highly susceptible to over-heating during warm weather, so try to avoid exercising them if possible.
  3. Because pets tend to spend more time outdoors in the summer, chances to contract a disease or parasite also increase. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations and heartworm medications are up-to-date, and ask your vet to recommend a safe flea and tick medication that is effective in our region.
  4. Keep your dog and cat brushed to protect them from over-heating and matting. Try to avoid shaving your animal, which could lead to exposed skin and sunburns.
  5. If you throw a party, remind your guests that many of the foods served can be dangerous to your pet. Chicken bones, corncobs, citrus fruits, chocolate, onions, and alcohol may cause vomiting, hyperventilation, or even death, so guests should avoid giving human food to your pets. After the party, make sure all garbage is picked up and properly stored to keep animals out.
  6. Never leave a dog unattended in a pool. Like people, even the best dog can get into trouble while swimming and drown. Also, try to keep your dog from ingesting pool water, which contains chemicals that could upset a dog’s stomach.
  7. Keep windows closed or use heavy screens on windows to prevent cats from falling out of windows. Contrary to popular belief, cats do not always land on their feet when falling, and the most severe injuries occur from second- or third-floor windows.

With just a few precautions, you and your pet will have a wonderful summer.

Information provided by the Independence Health Department and ASPCA.