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Tips to Keep Your Pet Cool & Safe this Summer

funny sunbathing dogs image

Summer means many things in Philly– soaring temperatures, water ice, trips down the shore - but what it shouldn’t mean is danger for our pets.  Follow these simple precautions and help keep your pets safe!

  • Never leave an animal in a parked car — not even “just for a minute”, not even if it’s in the shade with the windows open. The inside temperature can quickly rise to over 120 degrees. Heatstroke and even death can occur in a very short time. (This goes for little humans as well!) More info, flyers, etc. at http://www.redrover.org/mydogiscool.
  • Always make sure that fresh, clean, cold water is available. Dogs and cats drink more on hot days, and cool water can get warm quickly. On the move? Bring a thermos or other insulated container of water for Fido. 
  • If your pet is staying outside, make sure they have a spot in the shade to avoid midday sun and heat, with fresh, cold water.  Even better, invite them inside!
  • Going swimming? Don’t let dogs swim unattended.  Make sure they have shade and fresh water (salt water’s undrinkable, and pool water can cause stomach trouble).  Bathe them afterwards to remove all sand, mud, salt, or chlorine, and keep pool chemicals stored safely out of reach.
  • Don’t forget that pets can jump or fall out of open, unscreened windows and doors, possibly running off or suffering serious injuries.  Keep screens on and secure (or windows closed) if possible. 
  • Make sure your pet is wearing their collar and tag – microchips are great too – to give them the best chance of finding their way back home if they go astray. More pets get lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year, so along with these vital identifiers, keep a good recent photo of them on hand and let any guests know to keep an eye on them. If your pet is afraid of fireworks, leaving soft music playing may help.
  • Avoid excessive exercise that could lead to overexertion and heat stress. Exercise pets in the morning and evening during the coolest parts of the day. Remember that broiling sidewalks and scorching sand can burn bare paws or overheat low-to-the-ground bodies!
  • Remember that some pets are more heat-sensitive than others. If your pet is a flat-faced or snub-nosed breed (like Pugs, Pekes, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Persian cats, etc.), elderly, overweight, has heart or lung problems, or is otherwise ill, it’s probably best to keep them inside near air-conditioning.
  • Start their summer off right with a vet check-up! While you want to check pets daily for fleas and ticks, your vet can also suggest effective preventative measures.  If your dog (or cat!) goes outside, heartworm prevention is vital. This mosquito-borne illness is potentially fatal as well as very difficult and expensive to treat. Don’t risk it – guarantee they’re protected with a simple monthly pill.
  • Pesticides and lawn herbicides can poison pets – try to avoid walking your dog in places you think have been treated and make sure to store any such products out of reach.  The same goes for bug sprays, mosquito repellents and even citronella candles. Also, leaking engine coolant is extremely toxic – only a small amount of this sweet-tasting liquid can kill pets or children.  Look for non-toxic products containing propylene glycol instead.
  • Keep pets well groomed. Long hair and should be trimmed to keep animals cool and to prevent skin disease – but make sure not to give too close a shave; an inch of hair will help protect them from the sun.