Keeping Pets Healthy and Safe this Summer

Summertime...warm days at the beach, jogs in the summer sun, and evenings enjoying fireworks. All great things to do with your family that are potentially dangerous, even life-threatening, for your pets. Now is the time for pet owners to remember a few tips that will make the "dog days of summer " safe and happy for their animal companions.

Keep Fresh Water Available at all Times: Dogs, cats and other domestic animals are not equipped to tolerate heat like humans. Their physiology makes them extremely susceptible to heat stroke. They should not be kept outside without a cool, shady area to rest and plenty of cold, fresh water to drink. Inside, there should always be a bowl of cold water, too.

Know Your Pet and What it Can Tolerate: Dogs that are old, overweight, snub-nosed or have any type of heart or lung ailment must be kept cool. Summer heat can be harmful or even deadly.

Don’t take Animals to the Beach: With no shade and no fresh water, there is nothing fun about a summer day on the beach for a pet. In fact, dogs have died from drinking salt water. Do your dog a favor and enjoy the beach without him.

Keep Exercise Moderate: Sure, your dog loves a good run. But a mile-long jog on a warm day will exhaust him long before he shows you signs that he wants to stop. If you do decide to go for a run, bring some extra water your pet can drink and be alert to signs of fatigue, panting, drooling, or even just slowing down.

Don’t Leave Dogs on Hot Asphalt: Contrary to what you may think, the pads on a dog’s paws can be burned, cut and scraped. You wouldn't stand on a hot summer street without shoes — don’t make your dog do the same!

Leaving Pets Unattended in Vehicles can be Deadly: Even on an overcast, cooler spring day, temperatures inside your car can reach 120 to 130 degrees in less than a half hour. Just a few minutes in those conditions can be detrimental to your pet’s health and safety. Once again, your pets will be much happier in the cool confines of their home.

And While You're Thinking About Vehicle Safety: Check your vehicle to make sure it is not leaking antifreeze, a sweet-smelling and poisonous liquid.

Use Water Sport Safety Practices for Your Pet: Many dogs enjoy a good swim. It's great exercise, but just like for humans, can be dangerous in poor water conditions. Avoid strong currents and choppy water. Make sure your dog swims in shallow, calm, clean water that he can easily get out of if need be.

If you take your pet boating, acquire a special life vest for the animal.

If you take your dog in a swimming pool, never leave him unattended. Not all dogs have strong swimming skills and can drown. They may also have difficulty exiting the water depending on the type of stairs or ladder the pool has.

Fireworks can be Scary and Dangerous: According to the American Humane Association, July 5 is the busiest day of the year of many animal shelters because of scared dogs that ran from their homes at the sound of fireworks and firecrackers. Pets are known to go to extremes to get away from the explosive sounds. If you plan on going to a nearby fireworks display, this is one more instance when it is best to leave your pets securely inside your home. Never, ever light fireworks near any animal or human. Fireworks are dangerous and illegal for individuals to possess and light on their own, so think twice before doing so in your own backyard.

Keep Pets Protected During Storms: Some animals have a distinct fear of thunderstorms. Like those afraid of the sound of fireworks, these animals will do everything in their power to get away from the sound of thunder and the flashes of lightning. Never let an animal out during a thunderstorm. They are exposed to the same dangers as humans. Try and stay with your pet and keep him calm. Before the first large storm of the season, discuss the use of tranquilizers with your veterinarian and only administer ones exactly as prescribed by your vet.

Make Sure your Window Screens are Strong and Secure: Cats enjoy sitting in a breezy, open window, but if they have no screens — or the screens are not secure — your cat can fall out and get badly injured.

Do Not Leave Animals on Balconies: Do not tie a leash to the balcony, either. Death or injuries can occur when animals fall or unwittingly jump off the balconies they are left on.