Summer can be a fun time for owners and pets to enjoy quality time together. It is also a time for pet owners to look out for their pet*s safety as well. Whether it*s enjoying a car ride with your pet, taking them out on a boat or for a swim, or simply letting them exercise outdoors, we have some tips on how to help keep these adventures safe for your pets!
Perhaps the most common danger experienced by pets in the summer months is the risk of heatstroke. While dogs and cats both can become exposed to dangerous outdoor temperatures, dogs are often more susceptible to the effects of heat because they are often more willing to attempt to exert themselves regardless of the heat. Cats and dogs both expend excess heat through panting, but often this action is no match for the severity of rising outdoor temperatures. Brachycephalic (short muzzled) breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, are especially susceptible to the effects of extreme summer temperatures. Time outdoors for pets should be limited to early morning and evening hours when the summer temperatures are at their coolest. Care should also be taken when walking dogs on asphalt or sand covered areas as they absorb the summer heat and can cause burns to foot pads.
The inviting summer weather and availability of outdoor activities increases the number of car trips pets and their owners are making together. Cats travelling in cars should be kept in portable kennels or carriers for the duration of their trip. Keeping curious cats confined can help prevent driver distraction and also provide greater safety if an accident occurs. Dogs travelling by car should be secured safely with a car harness that attaches to the vehicle’s seatbelt system. The state of New Jersey has recently increased its policy on pet car safety. Under New Jersey Statute 4:22-18, unrestrained pets in vehicles is an act of animal cruelty, and drivers who fail to comply to this statute can be subject to fines, ranging from $250 to $1,000 and as much as six months in jail.
Cars can also pose a danger when pets are left in parked vehicles. On a warm day temperatures within a car can easily reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When travelling with your pets do not leave them in a car unattended. If making stops during a trip, be sure to have a family member stay with pets so that the air conditioner can remain on, keeping the vehicle cool and comfortable.
Not all dogs are created equally and as a result some breeds are born swimmers while others are not. Any pet that will be swimming in or travelling over a body of water that is too deep for them to touch the bottom should wear a life jacket to help them stay afloat. These jackets are often designed with a handle so that pets in distress can be easily lifted out of the water to safety.
Be careful where you let your pet swim as some ponds or lakes may be contaminated by bacteria or other harmful organisms and toxins. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacterial infection that is found in contaminated water sources. Dogs can be vaccinated against several strains of this bacterium, protecting them and their owners as well. Finally, whether your pet swims in your own pool, the ocean, or a lake it is always a good idea to bathe them afterwards to thoroughly cleanse their coat of any potential irritants.