During the outdoor activities and hot weather of the summer months, the following recommendations may help you protect the health of your pet:
If your pet is housed outside, provide shade and consider adding a mister (available at most hardware and larger pet stores). If your pet lives inside, run the air conditioning on days when you would want to run the "A/C" for your own comfort. If you don’t have an air conditioner, fans should be placed to increase your pet's comfort. Try to keep pets on lower levels of your home (avoid attics, etc.). Of course, fresh, cool water should be available at all times!
Do your pets a favor and leave them at home in the air-conditioned house rather than taking them in the car. The car is not a safe place for any pet for any amount of time when the weather begins to turn warm. However, if you must take your pets with you, don’t leave them in the car unattended. Park in the shade and leave the windows open…and again, always have plenty of cool water on hand.
During strenuous exercise beginning in late spring, allow your dog plenty of breaks for water and rest, especially if your pet is panting heavily or slowing down. Even in weather tolerable to the human athlete, dogs sometimes overheat before their owners do; dogs have thick fur coats and need to acclimatize to warmer weather. Veterinarians at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital begin to see heat stroke cases in late April or May.
Out and About
When walking your dog (or cat!) keep it on a leash at all times. This will help decrease the risk of snake bites, encounters with other wildlife, encounters with less friendly dogs, foxtails, exposure to toxins, getting lost and many other injuries.
If you are visiting an area where you might find ticks, we recommend using a tick preventive before beginning your journey. Check with your veterinarian for the safest, most effective product for your pet.
Examine your pet’s skin, ears and feet at the end of the day. Using a comb specially designed to remove fleas will help find ticks, fleas, and other surprises!
Long-coated dogs, especially those with long fur on their feet, may benefit from having the fur on their feet clipped in early spring. This will make it easier to find foxtails and burrs that may become embedded between the toes.
When traveling over rough terrain, consider placing hiking booties (available at outdoor/recreational stores, pet stores or online suppliers) on the animal. These will prevent abrasions, cuts, foxtails and may even help prevent some types of bites.
Again…always keep fresh water with you!
Don’t overdo it—if you are planning a trip, start getting your dog fit well before your trip so she’ll enjoy herself as much as you will.
If any of the following occurs, contact a veterinarian immediately and follow specific recommendations:
1) snake or other animal bite
2) excessive fatigue
3) weakness or collapse
5) excessive panting
6) shaking head constantly
7) sudden onset of sneezing, nosebleed, or both
Any other changes in your pet’s behavior may indicate a serious problem. Don’t take chances—when in doubt, go straight to the nearest veterinary hospital.
*These tips from Dr. Gina Davis of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital provide general information about animal health. We regret that we are not able to give medical advice via the Internet, e-mail, regular mail or telephone. If you have specific questions about the health of your pet, please consult your veterinarian, or contact the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, (530) 752-1393.