Summer Pet Care Tips
Summer and vacation season can pose special problems for pets. Help keep your pet healthy and safe by following these simple tips.
Any pet can suffer from heat stress. However, particularly susceptible are:
- Very young and older pets
- Pets with a previous history of heat stress
- Short-nosed breeds
- Overweight pets
- Pets with cardiovascular or respiratory disorders
Help Prevent Heat Stress By:
- Providing plenty of clean, fresh water for your pet at all times
- Providing adequate ventilation and air circulation when pets are kept in kennels or pens
- Providing shade cover when pets are outdoors
- Avoiding excessive exercise of pets during hot weather
- Never leaving pets in parked vehicles
Some signs of heat stress are profuse panting and salivation, staring or an anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm dry skin, high fever, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, muscular weakness or collapse.
If your pet has heat stress, try to reduce his temperature by gradually immersing your pet in cool water, spraying him with cool water or applying ice packs to his head and neck. Then take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
Bites and Stings
Bug bites can irritate your pet just as they can bother you! While some insect bites, like the gnats that are seen in early spring, may cause red circular areas on the skin of the belly, they are not itchy for pets like they can be for people. But biting flies can be very annoying and may cause open sores or scabs on the tips of the ears. Insect repellents work well to prevent fly strike for dogs that spend a lot of their time outdoors or at the cabin.
Some pets are allergic to insect bites and stings. Unusual swelling, especially around the head and muzzle, or hives can be an indication that your pet is having an allergic reaction. Contact your veterinarian immediately. While allergic reactions are not common, they can be quite serious.
When planning your vacation it will be necessary to decide on your pet's care and whether to leave your pet or take him along. Your pet's personality and the length and distance of your trip are important considerations in making this decision.
Leaving Your Pet Behind
Boarding your pet or hiring a pet sitter are options if you decide to leave your pet behind. In either case, here are some general tips:
- Ask your veterinarian or other pet owners for recommendations of reputable boarding facilities or pet sitters.
- If boarding, visit the facility to meet the people and to check the safety and cleanliness of the operation. If hiring a pet sitter, observe the sitter in your home to see how he/she and your pet interact.
- Make boarding reservations well in advance of your trip. Many facilities book/fill up early, especially over holiday periods.
- Be sure your pet is current on all vaccinations required.
- If your pet is on medication, be sure to leave an ample supply and clear, complete instructions.
- Leave explicit instructions on feeding and a supply of your pet's regular food. If leaving your pet with a sitter, discuss your pet's exercise routine.
- Be sure your pet wears a collar with an identification tag. Cats should have safety collars.
Taking Your Pet Along
- Call ahead to be sure your pet will be welcome at the hotels, motels, homes or parks where you will be staying.
- Be sure your pet has all required vaccinations and a current health certificate when required. Take along his medical records.
- Take along your pet's regular food, any medications, a supply of water and, if space is available, his bedding and favorite toy.
- Be sure your pet has a collar with identification tag with your name and phone number. A photo of your pet is important in case he is lost while vacationing. Keep your pet confined in a cage/crate or on a leash at all times.
- If traveling in a vehicle with your pet, it is safest for you and your pet to keep him confined to a carrier. Never let your pet ride with his head out the window or in the back of a truck.