Along with summer comes special concerns for our furry family members. The main areas of concern are heat, bugs and water safety.
Heat is of particular concern here in Florida, for both animals and humans. Cats, originally desert animals, are seemingly more able to adapt to heat, generally disappearing after finding a cool corner. Dogs, on the other hand, need a bit more attention.
Although all dogs are susceptible to heatstroke, if your dog is short or snub-nosed, longhaired or is young, they are even more vulnerable. Overheating can become dangerous quickly, so prevention is best. Signs of heatstroke are excessive panting, difficulty breathing, bright red tongue, drooling, lethargy and unsteadiness. If any of these signs occur, immediately get your dog into shade or air conditioning and cool the dog down with cool but not ice water. You can spray your dog with a hose, submerge them in a tub, or drape with wet towels. Do not force them to drink, but do offer water.
Exercise and walk your dog in the cooler morning and evening hours, staying in shady or grassy areas. This helps protect their paws too. If pavement is too hot for you to keep your hand on it for 10 seconds, it is too hot for Fido.
Never leave your dog in a parked car, even with windows cracked. Heat builds up very quickly and can reach dangerous levels in just minutes here in Florida.
Consider using a kiddie pool, a wet bandana, or a fan, which your dog will appreciate on hot days.
Many dogs love to swim and cool off, but keep in mind that water from lakes, streams, ponds, or the ocean can be unhealthy for your dog. Lakes, streams and ponds are often contaminated with organisms or pesticides that can lead to anything from diarrhea to severe illness. Salt water has dangers too and can make dogs ill very quickly. If your dog starts drinking salt water, call him/her to you immediately and provide lots of fresh water. Even swimming in salt water should be limited to a few hours, as they can ingest it without actually trying to drink. Always have fresh drinking water available for your pet.
Do NOT assume your dog can swim. Those with short legs or thicker body shapes find swimming difficult. Even if they can swim, knowing how to find the stairs or access is important to keep your pet safe. A life jacket may be a worthwhile investment. It should be worn at all times if at the ocean, as currents or waves could cause a problem. It should also be worn when introducing a dog to pool. Many dogs can be frightened, so slow introduction using a life jacket can help.
Have some wonderful adventures and activities with your dogs this summer and be safe.
The above article also appears in the July edition of the Celebration News