Tip 1: Mosquitoes
Summer weather is here and mosquito season is in full swing. For you, mosquitoes = West Nile. For your dog, mosquitoes = heartworms.
To help protect you and your dogs from mosquitoes make sure that there is no standing water in your yard. Change the dog’s drinking water every day. If your dog is like mine and has a white trash country club membership complete with a plastic doggie swimming pool – change that water daily as well.
One of the ways you can protect yourself from the West Nile virus is with Deet, but DO NOT use deet on your dog! Deet is very toxic to dogs. If you are looking for more information on dogs and the West Nile, Dr. May has a great informative post about West Nile and your pet. It’s generally not a big concern for dogs. Now, heartworms are a different story.
To protect your dogs from heartworms, keep your dog on year round heartworm preventative. Another bonus reason to give a monthly heartworm preventative: the preventatives also take care of intestinal parasites. Why is this important? Heartworms are not transmissible to humans, but intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms are, especially to little children. Gross. Giving the dogs a monthly preventative helps prevent this as well.
Tip 2: Don’t leave your dog in the car
One of the most common causes of deadly heatstroke in dogs is caused by dogs left in parked cars. It is very tempting to leave your dog in the car, just for a minute, but the temperature in the car can rise to deadly levels in minutes. Don’t leave the dog in the car with the car running either. Dogs can accidentally put the car in gear, bump the controls and turn off the ac, turn the car off, or the car could overheat – all leaving Fido in a deadly situation. The dogs can also accidentally put down the electric windows and jump out, the list goes on and on. My dogs have tried the trick with the electric windows, I had to put the child locks on the electric windows when we are driving around. But it had never occurred to me that the dog could turn the car off. I have a push button ignition and that would be easy for a dog to do, leaving them stuck in a hot car to die. Yikes! Golden rule – never leave the dogs in the car unattended.
Tip 3: How to keep cool
Follow these tips to keep your dogs safe during the long hot Texas days of summer:(reprinted with permission from the Arapaho Road Animal Clinic Newsletter article about heat stroke)
- Shade and Water- Make sure that any animal outside has access to shade and fresh water. Even if it is only for a few minutes, they can become overwhelmed by the heat without water. Please remember that during the heat dogs (and cats) will drink more water, so it is advisable to use a larger bowl than normal to ensure the pet does not run out. Multiple bowls are also recommended in case one is tipped over.
- I am going to interject here – multiple bowls are a great idea. Our street dog Tasha apparently knows all about evaporative cooling. She will dig in her water bowl in order to splash water all over her legs, then she will go lay down in shade in her diggie hole. One problem, no more drinking water! So now, we have lots of water bowls and the ridiculous plastic kiddie pool. And who doesn’t love ice in their drink? I throw ice in their pool – they love that. Now back to the newsletter article:
- Do not leave pets outside unattended. Check them often to make sure they are ok, have not turned over their water, etc.
- Limit exercise- This is especially important with playful dogs. Playing inside is fine, but outside, just like us, the heat can zap them very quickly. Also, DO NOT RELY ON THE DOG TO LIMIT ITSELF. Many dogs will not stop playing, chasing a ball, barking at the neighbors, etc, even when they are overheated. For instance, a Labrador Retriever will retrieve until it dies. It is up to you to stop throwing the ball and make the dog take a break and drink water.
- Choose your times to play- Just like we don’t mow our lawns at noon, but rather do it in the early morning or late evening to beat the heat, so should you play or go for long walks with your pet as well.
- Limit time outside. It does not take long for the heat to become overwhelming. If your dog is active, even if it’s just pacing the fence or barking at the neighbors (normal activities for your pet) then the time is even shorter.
- For sporting dogs like Labs, etc, having a child’s wading pool in the shade for them to splash in is helpful.
- Remember, brachycephalic (snub-nosed) dogs like bulldogs and pugs are extremely susceptible to heat stroke, and can get overwhelmed just sitting in the shade. With these breeds, you need to take extra precautions.
Thanks to the Arapaho Road Animal Clinic for such a great list of tips for keeping your pets safe and cool. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s hot to you, it’s hot for your pet. This goes for sidewalk and roadway surfaces, cars, exercise etc. etc.
Since the article was originally posted, we have posted another story about the signs of heat stroke. Time is of the essence when you are dealing with pets and heat stroke – know the signs and know what to do.
We have also posted two articles about 4th of July safety. It is a high holiday for pets, know what to do to keep your pets safe. Here’s a link to the first article, and a link to the second. Party on America.