Summer Pet Care
Cats and Kittens. The Anti-Cruelty Society strongly suggests that cats be kept inside at all times, year-round. Safe inside, your cat will be protected from the many life-threatening dangers always present outside the home. Inside cats get enough exercise and live longer and healthier lives. Remember that a kitten is more vulnerable than an adult cat and requires more supervision.
Dogs and Puppies. The Anti-Cruelty Society strongly suggests that dogs live inside the home, year-round, as members of the family. The exception is while on walks for elimination and exercise, at which times the dog should be leashed or contained within a fenced, supervised yard. Remember that a puppy is more vulnerable than an adult dog and requires constant supervision.
- Shelter. While outside, all dogs must have a shady area to rest. Without shelter from the sun and heat, an animal can suffer heatstroke.
- Water. Make sure your companion animals have plenty of fresh, clean water in a secure, non-tip dish at all times. Animals need water every day, throughout the day, to survive. During especially hot weather, you may consider putting out several bowls of water, perhaps with an ice cube in each.
- Food. In warm weather, many companion animals are less active and may eat less. Check with your veterinarian about the best diet for your animal(s).
- Cars. Going for a ride in the car can be fun, but never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather. Even with windows open, the temperature inside can reach well over 100 degrees very rapidly. Your animal could die within a few minutes! Leaving your animal unattended also means it can be easily stolen. Heatstroke. If your companion animal gets too hot, they could suffer heatstroke. Signs include: difficult, then rapid breathing; reddened tongue and gums; a blank stare; or sudden collapse. EMERGENCY ACTION IS NECESSARY OR YOUR ANIMAL MAY DIE! Bring the body temperature down immediately by covering them with cool (not cold or icy) water and take them to a veterinarian for a complete examination.
- Exercise. When it's hot, try to limit exercise to the cooler hours in the morning or evening. Remember that animals are more affected by heat than humans are: the normal body temperature for dogs and cats is higher than ours, they cool-off less effectively, and they are covered with fur.
- Panting. Companion animals cool off by panting and perspiring through their foot pads. However, be on the lookout for excessive panting or drooling - this may be a sign of heatstroke or other distress.
- Heartworm. Heartworms are internal parasites that are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Dogs with heartworms can suffer serious health complications. Each spring your dog should be tested for heartworms. Then, during the spring, summer, and fall, your dog should be on heartworm-preventive medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Grooming. Regular brushing keeps your companion animal's skin and coat healthy and clean between baths. For bathing, use only dog- or cat-specific shampoos and do not bathe them too frequently as that can lead to dry skin.
- Fleas, Ticks, and Other Pests. Fleas and ticks can lead to a variety of health problems for your animal. Check your animal daily, especially around the ears and neck, between the toes, and around the back legs. If an infestation occurs, contact your veterinarian for advice. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside in the summer can also suffer from fly bites, especially around the ears. Ask your veterinarian about fly repellent made for dogs.
- Skin Diseases. Your companion animals may be more sensitive to skin problems in warm weather. If your animal is scratching more than usual, has hair loss, or has raw skin, contact your veterinarian for advice and treatment.