Summer Time Pet Safety Tips
MHS Reminds Pet Owners to Keep Pets Safe This Summer
With the steamy summer in full swing in and around metro Detroit, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) urges companion animal guardians to take the necessary extra precautions to protect their pets during hot and humid weather. Each year, the warmer months bring heart-wrenching and completely preventable cases of companion animals suffering outside without proper shelter or other provisions.
The Michigan Humane Society recommends that companion animals live indoors with the rest of the family, year-round. However, if an animal must be outside for any period of time, guardians should ensure the proper provisions are in place before it becomes a life or death situation. The following tips will help guardians care for their companion animals responsibly during hot weather:
- Hot Weather - Bring companion animals inside. If a dog must be left outdoors for any length of time, access to shade and fresh, cool water is essential. However, when temperatures and humidity soar, even these precautions may not be enough. If your dog is experiencing rapid panting and lethargy and has been subjected to extreme temperatures, he may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Other symptoms may include restlessness, excessive thirst, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, vomiting or lack of coordination. If you notice any of these symptoms, immerse your dog in cold water (if you are unable to immerse him, pour cold water over him) and contact your veterinarian immediately. To report a dog left outdoors without proper provisions, call your local animal control or police department.
- Exercise - A dog or cat’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. In warm weather, he may become overheated during too-strenuous exercise. When this happens, his body temperature increases rapidly, and, once it reaches a critical point, irreparable brain damage or death can occur in a short amount of time. Animals do not perspire like humans; they have very few sweat glands, and therefore, they pant to release the heat from their body. Limit strenuous exercise with your companion animal, such as jogging or long walks, to the early morning or evening hours, and avoid hot pavement. Be sure to provide plenty of cool water before, during and after exercise.
- Thunderstorms - Keep dogs and cats inside in a safe area during thunderstorms or other severe weather. The noise and lights could cause a frightened animal to jump a fence or bolt out a door or window and become lost. As always, make sure your companion animal is wearing identification.
- Cars and Pets - Leaving your pet alone in a vehicle can prove dangerous or fatal in just minutes. Lowering the windows makes it easier for others to break in and steal your companion animal or belongings. And, even on a relatively mild 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car parked in the shade with the windows cracked open can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. On warmer days, it will go higher. When the air a dog breathes is overheated, the evaporation that usually occurs during panting cannot take place. If you see an animal left alone in a parked car and suspect he may be in immediate danger, notify the nearby businesses and request they make an announcement. If necessary, contact the local animal control or police department.
- Car Travel - If you’ll be traveling with your dog or cat, make sure he has a current ID tag, and pack a copy of his vaccination records along with a clear, recent photo in case he gets lost. Also pack his regular food, treats and toys. Depending on where you’ll be traveling, you may want to use a high-quality flea and tick repellent on your companion animal. Make sure your travel plans are such that he will never be left alone in the car. Otherwise, it may be safer and kinder to board him at a reputable kennel or leave him in the care of a trusted pet sitter.
- Fleas and Ticks - It is not “normal” for your dog or cat to have fleas. They are an annoyance to you and a health hazard to your companion animal, and can transmit internal parasites such as tapeworms. Some pets are allergic to the bites of fleas and develop severe itching, hair loss, skin irritation and redness. Unfortunately, you don’t have to travel to the woods for your dog or cat to become infested with fleas or be bitten by a tick carrying serious diseases such as Lyme disease. Prevention is much easier and often less costly than ridding your home and yard of fleas. Keeping cats indoors will help prevent an infestation. Talk to your veterinarian about a highquality flea and tick repellent for your dog or cat. For more information please visit www.michiganhumane.org/vetcare_fleaControl.
- Coat Concerns - Your pet’s coat helps to insulate him from both cold and heat, and helps prevent sunburn. But, if you have a thick-coated pet such as a collie or longhaired cat, having his fur shaved down to 1 inch may keep him more comfortable during hot weather. If you plan to camp, hike or hit the beach together, a nontoxic sunblock containing zinc oxide as the active ingredient can be applied to your pet on any areas likely to get sunburned, such as a light-colored nose, belly or tips of the ears. Re-apply as needed.
- Lawn Chemicals - You may have the most beautiful yard on the block. But is it safe for furry family members? Most lawn chemicals are safe if applied according to the manufacturer’s directions, so read the label carefully and don’t allow your pets on treated lawns or gardens until the time listed. With lawn fertilizers, watering the lawn after application is usually required; people and pets should avoid direct contact with the area until it is completely dry. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have recently been sprayed with chemicals. Store lawn chemicals out of the reach of children and pets. If you hire a commercial lawn care service, animals should not be left outside during treatment. And, make sure you ask the service when it will be safe for children and companion animals to re-enter the yard after treatment.
- Toxic Mulch and Poisonous Plants - Cocoa mulch, which may attract animals with its smell, contains theobromine and can be fatal to cats and dogs, even if ingested in small amounts. For a list of poisonous plants that may be in your yard, especially if you have a new puppy or your dog is a known chewer, visit www.michiganhumane.org/vetcare_poisonousPlants.
- Lost Pets - Warm-weather activities and gatherings can provide more opportunities for a companion animal to slip out a door or gate and become lost. Dogs and cats even those considered “indoor only” - should wear a collar and ID tag at all times. A form of permanent identification such as a microchip is also highly recommended.
For more information on companion animal health and safety, contact the Michigan Humane Society at 1.866.MHUMANE, Monday through Friday, or visit www.michiganhumane.org/vetcare.