Summertime safety tips for pet owners

Summertime safety tips for pet owners

The summer season is an excellent time to enjoy the outdoors. Yet, along with benefiting from the great weather and fun activities, pet owners must take extra precautions in order to ensure the safety of their furry family members.
Transportation
* Never leave your pet in an unattended car. On warm days, the temperature in your car can rise to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows slightly open.
* When you bring your pet along on a car ride, use a pet safety harness. If an accident were to occur, a pet safety harness can ensure that every passenger is protected.
* If your dog must ride in the back of a pick-up truck, make sure that he or she is in a crate that is secured to the bed of the truck. If you were to suddenly hit the brakes, swerve or be hit by a car, it could result in serious injury not only to your pet, but to other drivers.
* Do not travel with your pet on an airplane unless it's absolutely necessary. If you plan on bringing your pet on vacation, consider driving to your destination. Otherwise, think about leaving your pet behind under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel. For detailed information on safe pet air travel, click on the "Pet Travel" button on the top left.
Wellness
* Only use veterinarian-approved flea and tick control products. Over-the-counter products may contain ingredients that have been found to harm pets. For more information about what chemicals to avoid, click on the "Chemical Info" button on the top left.
* Make sure that your pet is protected from heartworm. Dogs and cats are at higher risk of contracting heartworm during the summer because there is an increase of mosquitoes, which transfer the disease. Contact your veterinarian in order to determine the best schedule for heartworm testing and preventive medication for your pet.
* Protect your pet from the heat by providing him/her with large amounts of fresh water and keeping them indoors with you and providing plenty of shade when they are spending time outdoors.
* On hot days, limit your pet's exercise to the early morning or evening hours. Also, keep in mind that the hot asphalt can burn your pet's paws.
Precautions
* Learn to identify the signs of heat stress: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue. If your pet does become overheated, immediately lower his/her body temperature by applying cool (not cold) water over his/her body, and giving small amounts of water or ice cubes. Most importantly, get immediate help from a veterinarian.
* Teach your dog how to get out of your pool. Like people, many dogs like cooling off in pools. Even if your dog can swim, tragedy can occur if he/she does not know how to exit the pool. Showing your pooch how to enter the pool via the stairs and guiding him or her back out can prevent this. Never leave your pet unattended around a pool.
* Make sure that your pet is always wearing a collar with an updated identification tag. Even if your pet has an implanted microchip, as of late 2003, animal shelters and humane societies may not have a universal scanner that can read every brand of microchip. To learn more about HSUS's statements on microchips, click on the "Microchips" button on the top left.
* Spay or neuter your pet in order to prevent unwanted puppy or kitten litters. Although this is a year-round concern, the spring and summer months heighten the need for spaying and neutering because animal shelters often become filled to capacity with unwanted puppies and kittens. Other benefits of spaying and neutering include a greatly reduced risk of cancer and reduced potential for aggressive behavior in your pet.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammals, animals in research, equine protection, and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy and field work. The nonprofit organization is based in Washington and has field representatives and offices across the country. On the web at www.hsus.org