Top 10 Summer Pet Health Tips

Alert! Old, young, overweight, heavy coated or animals with health issues already are more susceptible to heat.

1. Water - Mulitiple Locations

Multiple locations of cool, fresh, clean water to keep your pet hydrated.  Keep the toilet seat down (chemicals and bacteria can be harmful) and take water with you for your pet if you are traveling with it.

Keep bird water bowls and cages changed frequently as bacteria and parasites grow faster when it is hot. Provide a bath area for your bird so it can keep cool and clean.

2. Do Not Leave Your Pet In The Car

Do not leave your pet in the car as it only takes a few minutes, even as low as in the 60’s or low 70’s on a sunny day for the auto to get hot, even with cracked windows plus it is against the law in many states including California which can result in fines and jail time.  Even with the AC on, the auto system may shut down and leave your pet to bake.

Pets can not cool down fast and a dog with heat stress can die quickly.  If you suspect heat stoke—symptoms include lack of coordination, heavy panting, fever, disorientation or dizziness—cool your pet with cool water (towels, hose, ice pack), let it lick ice cubes, and go to your vet immediately, call your vet even if your pet appears to have recovered because it can still be affected.

3. Know Your Pet's Heat Tolerance

Heat and humidity are factors in determining your pet’s heat tolerance. Since age, health, obesity, and type of breed or pet factor into the tolerance, you should monitor your pet carefully during hot weather.

Ferrets prefer the 60’s, rodents below 75, birds below 85, rabbits below 80, and fish, whose body temperature is determined by the temperature of the water, is generally between 70 and 80—depends on type and even a degree or two can make a difference. Keep the fish tank away from windows that might result in the tank water heating up.

Dogs and cats—whose normal body temperature is between 100 and 102.5—don’t do well in heat, especially if they get dehydrated. Cats sweat through their paws and will lick themselves to cool down, become inactive, as well as seek cool places, however, above 85 or 90 degrees they can get stressed. Dogs do not lose heat as fast as humans, therefore, heat can become a health risk quickly.

4. Throw Away Uneaten Food

Bacteria grows faster when it is hot, so uneaten pet food should be thrown out.  More frequent, smaller portions may be appropriate during the summer.

5. Know What Is Toxic To Your Pet

Plants that can harm your pet—these include dieffenbachia, mistletoe, holly, philodendron, hyacinth, poinsettias, hibiscus, amaryllis, English ivy, and some types of lilies (deadly for cats) just to name a few.

Household items—antifreeze (on driveway), medications, electrical cords, and pesticides.

Foods that can harm your pet—chocolate, onions, coffee, nicotine, alcoholic beverages, poultry bones, fatty foods and grapes/raisins.

6. Pet ID And Contact Info On Your Pet

There is nothing more disheartening than a lost pet…especially when you see signs posted.  Pets are more active in the summer, chase other animals, can be with you traveling….and end up lost.  The pet’s name and your phone number (cell- fastest way to reach you) on its collar can be a life saver. National pet registries are available.

7. Check Your Pet For Fleas, Ticks, Etc.

Check and groom your pet daily (cats, dogs) to make sure that they do not have fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm (from mosquitoes), bites, or other infections or rashes from being outdoors. Plus, brush their teeth and check their ears.
When the temperature is 65+ and the humidity is 75+, fleas are in season.  While tiny, you can see “flea dirt”which looks like dark specks.

Heartworm from infected mosquitoes—in dogs, cats, ferrets, and humans—does not show many symptoms initially but eventually symptoms may include a cough, weight loss, fainting and weakness.  It can take months or even years to manifest itself…and detection can be done by a blood test and you can recieve preventive medicine from your veterinarian.

8. Groom Your Pet Daily

Grooming your pet in the summer will help your pet stay cooler, provide inspection for health problems and it reduces hairballs in cats. Brushing of your pet’s teeth is also a health aid.

Ferrets can get fleas—check with your vet on how to treat as regular flea collars and shampoos may not be appropriate for ferrets…and baths generally should be infrequent. Also check for ear mites, wash their bedding, and make sure they have multiple sources of water.

9. Keep Fish Tanks Away From Window Sunlight

The temperature of fish is directly affected by water temperature. If the sun heats the water, it can harm fish.

10. Pet Walking, early morning or evening

In southern climates or when it is very hot, walk or exercise your pet in the morning or early evening when it is cooler.

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