Long warm days. Vacation. It’s a great time to get out and about with your favorite furry family member. Just make sure you ALL have a safe and happy summer.

Here are some precautions to keep your pets safe.

  • Cars
    NEVER leave an animal (or kid) in a car in hot weather. The temperature rises dramatically. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside will rise to 100 degrees in 7 minutes. At 90 degrees, it will be 120 inside the car in less than 20 minutes. Animals die quickly at these temperatures. Don’t take the chance.
  • Pavement
    Think of your bare feet walking across a parking lot in July. While dogs have thicker pads on their feet than we do, pavement still burns their feet with prolonged exposure. The bed of a pickup truck is just as bad.
  • Exercise
    Dogs pant but do not sweat like we do. This makes them more susceptible to heat stroke. Flat-faced breeds (pugs, bulldogs, etc.), overweight or old dogs and those with heart or lung problems are at even higher risk. Exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening, take frequent breaks and provide plenty of water.
  • Outdoor pets
    If your dog lives outdoors, make sure there is adequate shade during all parts of the day. A baby pool is great for cooling them off — just make sure to change the water daily to prevent mosquitoes! Outdoor dogs also require much more water to drink.
  • Swimming
    Swimming is great exercise – especially for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia. Only swim in a pool with stairs (not a ladder) so they can get out when they are tired. Dogs can drown! When swimming in the Chattahoochee or other rivers be aware of swimming safety / fecal coliform signs. If the water is not safe for you to swim in, it is not safe for them. We see many cases of diarrhea involving dogs who swim in contaminated lakes and rivers.
  • Travel
    More and more of our clients are traveling with their pets. Just make sure your pet has an ID tag – preferably with your cell number. We’ve had several heartbreaking incidents with clients who lost pets while traveling. Make it easy as possible for someone to contact you if your pet escapes, including ID microchips (available from most vets), which all U.S. shelters can read.

    Cats should travel with a cat carrier, even around town. As someone who once broke down on I-285 with my cat (but without my cell phone), I was glad to have a carrier as the two of us walked to the next exit for help.

    Traveling can be stressful to animals, so maintain their regular diet. Those chicken nuggets you gave them won’t seem like such a good idea when they are ill 100 miles down the road.

We’ll be back next month with more tips on keeping your pet feeling – and looking – good as the “dog days” approach.