The summer months mean warm sun, cold drinks, and more time spent outdoors. Many pet owners view this as an opportunity to get outside with their furry, four-legged friends. Unfortunately, being outside in the hotter weather comes with some risks for pets, so owners need to take the proper steps to make sure their dog or cat is safe.
What Potential Dangers Does My Pet Face?
While our pets love to be outdoors where they can run, play, and explore, they don’t always know what’s best for them. As a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to keep your dog or cat out of trouble (which can be easier said than done). Read on to explore some of the most important things to watch for when it’s hot outside.
Walking your dog on hot surfaces, such as the road or sidewalk, can harm your pet’s paws. The temperature of asphalt can get up to 125 degrees when the air temperature is only 77 degrees. A good rule of thumb is to test the road with the back of your hand. If you can withstand the heat for seven seconds, it should be safe for your dog.
If the surface of the road or sidewalk is too hot, there are other ways to help your pet get exercise. You and your dog can head down to the dog park or local woods, where they can walk on cool grass or dirt paths. Alternatively, you could grab a few of their favorite outdoor toys and head to the backyard for a few rounds of fetch.
Curious pets, especially dogs, have a bad habit of finding and disturbing hives and nests, which may result in dangerous and painful stings. A good way to keep your pet safe from stinging insects is to regularly check your property for signs of wasps, hornets, and bees. It’s also best not to leave your dog or cat unattended, so they don’t go sticking their noses where they don’t belong.
If you discover that your pet has been stung and is exhibiting symptoms such as swelling, redness, and itching, you should take them to a vet for evaluation. If your pet isn’t showing any severe symptoms, you may be able to treat the area yourself by gently washing with mild soap and water. You can also apply ice every four to six hours to ease their discomfort.
Since dogs don’t sweat like us, if they spend too much time out in the hot sun, they can develop heat stroke, also called “heat stress” or “heat exhaustion.” Some telltale signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, drooling, red gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and mental decline. If you observe any of these symptoms, get your pet to a cool place with plenty of water immediately.
Having a designated pet room with their favorite toys can be a great place for your pet to relax and cool off after spending time outside. You can also use this space as an alternative play area when it’s too hot or as a secure place to leave them when you run errands instead of having them in a stuffy car.
How to Travel with Your Pet
Many people like to travel during the warmer months, which often means bringing along a pet for the trip. While the air-conditioned interior of the car can keep them nice and cool during the journey, there are still several safety precautions you need to consider when your pet tags along.
Properly Secure Them During the Ride
When going for a drive with your pet, especially on a long road trip, it’s important to ensure they have a safe and comfortable space to relax. Look for a crate that is appropriate for their size so they can lay down. If they enjoy standing up and moving around, install a dog guard between the front and back seats to keep everybody safe.
Another great travel option is a car harness for your dog or cat. These devices attach to your car’s seatbelt to ensure your pet is safe and secure. Harnesses also help prevent injuries to your pet in the case of an accident, stopping them from being ejected from the vehicle or thrown around the cab.
Prep a Travel Kit for Your Pet
A to-go kit is another smart addition to your car if you like to travel with your pets. Pack a few of their favorite toys or blankets, so they have something familiar with them when you’re traveling. Also, make sure to bring essentials like food, water, and a leash for when you make a pit stop.
It’s also a good idea to bring a first aid kit and medications with you during the trip. Because they’re going to be in an unfamiliar environment, they could potentially get scared and accidentally hurt themselves in their crate or while trying to get out of the vehicle. Being prepared can prevent you from having to rush them to the vet.
Other Warm Weather Considerations
There are a few other factors you will need to consider during the summer months, especially if you plan on having your dog or cat outside for extended periods. In addition to having plenty of cool water and a shady place for them to relax, you’ll want to think about some of these other safety factors.
Getting Your Pet a Haircut
While you may think that shaving your pet when the temperatures rise will keep them cool, sometimes their coats actually help to do that for them. Make sure to do some research about your pet’s specific breed so you can make the best seasonal grooming choices. A trim for longer-haired animals can be helpful, but taking too much off the top can do more harm than good.
Watch Out for Sunburn
Many pet owners probably don’t realize that their four-legged companion can get sunburn just like humans can. When taking them outdoors, apply pet-friendly sunblock to areas such as their ears, bellies, and noses. It’s generally a good idea to reapply every three to four hours.
Be Mindful of Fireworks
The summer months often mean big parties, loud noises, and fireworks. Pets often find fireworks frightening and may run away in a panic. To ensure this doesn’t happen, keep your animals indoors during any holidays or parties where you know fireworks will be in use.
Having a Safe and Happy Summer with Your Pet
Many of us look forward to the summertime, especially those of us with pets. It’s an opportunity to get out and explore in the fresh air and sunshine. As long as you remember to take the proper steps when spending time outdoors or traveling with your animal, you can both have a safe and happy summer.
Guest author Hazel Bennett is a freelance writer and blogger. She has a degree in communications and lives in Northeastern Ohio. Hazel loves writing about numerous topics and showcasing her expertise with words.