Take steps to keep your pets safe this summer

Apply sunscreen
Just like humans, cats and dogs can get sunburned, especially if they have light-colored hair. Animal sunburns can cause the same problems as that of humans: peeling, redness and even cancer. As skin cancer in pets is a serious concern, purchasing pet-friendly sun screen can go a long way in protecting the health of your pet when the heat kicks in. Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog’s lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears.You should apply sunscreen on your pet if he or she spends more than just a few minutes outside every day in the hot summer sun. Pets with light skin and short or thin hair coat are particularly prone to sunburn or skin cancer. There are some sunscreens made just for pets. The sunscreen should be fragrance-free, non-staining, and contain UVA and UVB barriers similar to sunscreens made for humans. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.

Provide plenty of water and shade
Dehydration in dogs and cats is a real possibility during the summer, especially if your pet is the type to run and play outside for extended periods without drinking sufficient water. Telltale signs of dehydration include dry gums, loss of skin elasticity and excessive drooling. Don’t let it come to this. Give your active pet plenty of playtime breaks in the shade with access to fresh water. Give your pet extra water during the summer, but be sure not to leave the water out for too long. Change the water often to prevent your pet from getting sick from bacteria that can grow in hot/warm water. Also, when dogs are thirsty, they might drink something they shouldn’t. Puddles of dangerous chemicals might look like water on the ground, so keep an eye out when your dog is looking for something to drink.

Avoid antifreeze
Even though antifreeze is something to watch out for year-round, cars tend to overheat more and leak antifreeze during the summer. Pets find it delicious and, even in very small amounts, antifreeze is poisonous to dogs and cats. So be attentive when walking your dog around the neighborhood or letting your outdoor cat roam the streets.

Don’t leave animals in the car
You may think leaving your pet in a car for a few minutes is no big deal, but it can quickly lead to heat stroke in dogs and cats. In bright sunshine, your car is like an oven, becoming much hotter inside than the outside air. In fact, on a sunny 70-degree day, your car can heat up to over 100 degrees within minutes. If you can’t take your pet with you inside the store, etc., it’s better to leave him at home.

Watch for unknown grassy knolls
Pets love to run, play and investigate grassy areas. But did you know many lawns are treated with fertilizers and pesticides during the summer? Keep your pet safe this summer by keeping hiem off unknown grassy areas or find a safe spot in your neighborhood or city, like a dog park.

Summer style
Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, but never to the skin, so your pet still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. .

Make a safe splash
Buy a kiddie or dog swimming pool and fill it with water for your pet. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool -– not all pets are good swimmers. Introduce your pet to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. To remove chlorine or salt from the fur, rinse your pet after swimming. Be sure to also keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Outdoor summer events
Warm temperatures and outdoor fun go hand-in-hand, but when the temperatures hit record highs, refrain from taking your pet to crowded summer events such as concerts or fairs. The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets.

Exercising in the heat
Pets need exercise even when it’s hot, but show extra care to older and overweight pets that are more at risk from high temperatures. Limiting exercise to early morning or evening hours can help. Extra caution should also be taken with short-nosed dogs, and those with thick coats. The temperature of asphalt and tar can soar far above 100 degrees in the summer, so walk pets on grass or dirt whenever possible.

Watch for heat stress and heatstroke
Pets can develop heatstroke fairly quickly. Some pets -– young, elderly, overweight and those with short noses –- are more vulnerable to the heat than others. And, of course, dogs with dark-colored or thick, winter-loving coats, are better off with limited time in the sun. Signs of this heat stress or heatstroke excessive panting, staring, anxious facial expressions, warm skin, refusal to obey commands by owner, vomiting, collapse and rapid heartbeat. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from this, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after just a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. If this happens, take the dog to the vet immediately –- don’t try to solve this yourself.

Sources: PetMD.com; Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of Camp Bow Wow; Petmate.com

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