Summer Care Tips for You and Your Pets
Summer Care Tips for You and Your Pets
As you contemplate sharing your time outdoors this summer with your pet, please take these precautions to decrease the chance of endangering your pet.
Never Leave Your Pet in the Car. In nice weather you may be tempted to take your pet with you in the car while you travel or do errands, but during warm weather the temperature inside your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes - even if you're parked in the shade. Dogs and cats don’t perspire the way that we do, and can only dispel heat by panting and through their paw pads. Pets who are left in hot cars - even briefly - can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and can even die. So with the heat index as high as it is these days, leave your pet comfy and cozy and cool at home. If you do happen to see a pet in a car alone during the hot summer months, alert the management of the store where the car is parked, and contact the local animal control or the police department immediately.
If You Can't Stand the Heat... Pets need exercise even when it is hot, but extra care needs to be taken with older dogs, short-nosed dogs, and those with thick coats. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws! Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. So ask your vet about using a sunscreen on your pet’s nose and ear tips, and be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
If your pet does become overheated, immediately lower his body temperature by moving him/her into the shade and applying cool (not cold) water over his/her body to gradually lower the core body temperature. Apply cold towels or ice packs to your pet's head, neck, and chest only. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. And most importantly, get your pet to a veterinarian immediately.
Don't Put Your Pet In the Back of a Truck. It is very dangerous, and prohibited in Cedar Rapids, to drive with an unsecured dog in the back of a pick-up truck. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, or is hit by another car. Dogs should ride either in the cab (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for dogs) or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.
Watch Out For Fertilizers and Deadly Plants. Summer is often a time when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. But beware: Plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. So be sure to check the label of any lawn care products that you use before applying them, and follow the directions and pet precautions carefully.
Stay Bite-Free. With people and dogs spending more time outside, dog bites are likely to increase in the summer months. Spaying or neutering dog reduces the likelihood that he will bite (unaltered dogs are twice as likely to bite) and provides many other health benefits.
Pet Care 101. Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tag. If you are separated from your pet, an ID tag may very well be his or her ticket home. You might also want to consider getting your pet microchipped. Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control offers microchip ID for pets for a mere $25/each.
Heartworm and Flea/Tick Prevention. Check with your veterinarian to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal in both dogs and cats. Another summertime threat is fleas and ticks. Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.
Vaccinate your pets against rabies. All cats, dogs and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies per Cedar Rapids Municipal Code 23.02 and 23.03. Rabies is a deadly disease that is usually transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. The disease is nearly always fatal. Dogs and cats are infected with rabies every year. Last year alone there were more than 3 dozen confirmed cases of rabies reported in Iowa, including some dogs and cats. So make an appointment with your veterinarian today to get your pet’s rabies vaccination up-to-date.
Patio Hazards. While we enjoy barbeques and sitting out on the patio, items we take for granted can be hazardous to our pets. Keep things like citronella candles, lighter fluid and matches away from pets. If eaten, they can irritate the stomach, lungs and central nervous system.
Thunderstorms and Lightning. Some dogs and cats are seriously distressed by the sound of thunder, fireworks, gunshot, or other loud bangs. Lightning streaks can also spook them. A new product called the “Thundershirt” helps calm their fears by applying gentle, constant pressure to calm your pet, effectively aiding anxiety, fearfulness, and stress. Thundershirts can be purchased at local retailers or online at www.thundershirt.com.
Disaster Preparedness. Warmer weather sometimes triggers extreme weather patterns. Do you have a disaster or evacuation plan in place for your family – including your pets? Be prepared. Make sure everyone knows where to go for shelter during a tornado warning, and when floods threaten, give yourself plenty of time to evacuate to safety.
About Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control
You can view a list of the many wonderful pets we have available for adoption by visiting our PetFinder website at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/IA125.html.