by Annette Lanker,
HolyCowCritters PetTech certified Pet CPR & 1st Aid instructor
When you think about summertime pet dangers most people’s minds go straight to HEAT emergencies, but this is only one of several dangers that can cause problems for our pets during the summer months. Here are the top five potential dangers to be aware of as we head into the warmest time of the year.
Whether you take your pets with you or leave them in the comfort of their own home, you want to make certain that they are safe.
If you take your beloved pets with you, please make certain that they are secured in a crash-tested pet seatbelt or a crate that is fastened into your vehicle. I recommend either Sleepy Pod’s Click-It or Pet Buckle’s restraint system and Variocage or TransK9US crates which are designed with crush-proof impact zones and dual doors in case the main exit is blocked.
Also make certain that your pet ID tags are up-to-date with your cell phone number and the cell number of any traveling companions. And when was the last time you updated the information on your pet’s microchip records with the company? I just recently learned that you can register any microchip with HomeAgain, so I know what I’m doing this week and I hope you will too. Microchips can be a pet’s ticket home.
If you decide your pet is best left at home in their familiar surroundings, I hope you will consider a professional petsitter. There are several professional organizations that can help you find the perfect sitter for your furbabies. I recommend arranging a pre-trip “meet and greet” to see how your pet responds to the potential sitter. Is the sitter trained and current in Pet CPR and first aid? What is their backup plan if they suddenly become ill? You should treat this like a job interview for the sitter and a professional petsitter will have everything in place to make your time away stress-free for you and your pet.
Once the rain stops here, we all head outside to get our yards ready for entertaining or just simply kicking back to relax! But there are numerous things that can pose a danger to our pets as we get our outdoor spaces ready.
All our precipitation makes our lawns nice and green but it makes the weeds and moss come out in abundance. Weed and moss killers and lawn fertilizers can be toxic to our pets, so read the labels completely to find out if they need to be kept off the area for a period of time after application.
Lots of people like to use mulch as a weed barrier, but most aren’t aware that the dark brown cocoa mulch can be fatal if ingested by our pets. I’m seeing lots of other fun colors of mulch in pictures on-line which I’m not familiar with but please read the ingredients and check with your vet to find out if any of the ingredients could be harmful if ingested by your pets.
3. PESTS…CREEPY CRAWLY/FLYING THINGS
We have lots of ‘critters’ that help our gardens grow but they don’t necessarily coexist in harmony with our pets.
Slugs munch on our flowers and veggies, but if you intend to spread slug bait, please be warned that it can be deadly to your pets. Even beer traps left out for the slugs can make your pets extremely ill. Instead, consider using copper garden tape which is an organic slug repellent.
In the Pacific northwest, it’s not just the crawly things that cause the problems, don’t forget the flying ones too. Spider bites and stings from bees, wasps or ants can cause painful swelling for our pets. It is important to monitor your yards and other areas that our pets play in and even their favorite potty spots for signs of nests and hives. Consider signing up for one of HolyCowCritters Pet CPR & First Aid classes, so you will be prepared to deal with an allergic reaction to a bite or sting.
We are lucky in western Washington that we don’t have the extremely poisonous spiders and snakes to deal with but if you hike or camp with your pets, familiarize yourself with the varieties that inhabit the areas you visit. PetTech has a great app for your smart phone that can help you identify many of the worst offenders. Download it now for your next outdoor excursion(small fee does apply).
4. BURNS FROM HOT ASPHALT OR CONCRETE
There are numerous ways for your pet to get burn injuries…flames (barbecues, candles, campfires), chemicals, hot liquids, and electrical burns from chewing on power cords. But the most common type of burn injuries this time of year comes from our pets walking on the hot ground.
Surprisingly, lots of pet parents don’t realize how hot the concrete or pavement can be when taking their dogs out for a walk. A good rule is that if you can’t hold the BACK of your hand to the concrete/pavement for AT LEAST 7 seconds, it is too hot to ask your pets to walk on it. Puppies and kittens are especially susceptible since their paw pads aren’t usually calloused yet. We usually wear some sort of shoes or sandals when we are out on the hot ground and you can get shoes or booties for your dog if he has to accompany you on those hot days, but the preferred choice would be to leave them at home where they can stay cool.
5. HEAT EXHAUSTION/HEAT STROKE
Most everyone has heard that heat stroke can be fatal for a pet left inside a locked car on a hot day, but did you know that just overexercising your dog can cause it too?
Pet owners frequently have no idea that in addition to just the temperature, we have to also consider how the humidity on a given day can add to the effect the heat has on our pets. Luckily, we don’t have the extreme humidity that much of the US does, but that makes it even more important for us to remember the Rule of 120. If you take the temperature of the day and add in the percentage of humidity… if it exceeds 120, be warned! That’s a BIG red flag and a huge risk of heat stoke for your pets, especially those senior pets in our lives. Keep time outside very limited and exercise to an absolute minimum. And always make sure your pet has access to plenty of clean cool water!
Do you know if your dog breed (and a few cat breeds) is one of the most susceptible to heat exhaustion? The breeds that are most susceptible are all dogs and cats with “smush-face” or in the veterinary world, what we call brachiocephalic. It’s really important that you know the signs of heat stroke include uncontrollable panting, foaming at the mouth or “bubbles”, lethargy or uncoordinated movements, vomiting, bright red gums and overall weakness. Normal temperature for pets is 100.4 – 102.5 F and every pet can vary slightly with their “normal.” Once a temperature goes above 103 degrees it is considered hyperthermic and the pet needs to be cooled down as soon as possible. Causes of heat stroke can be high temperatures, humidity, stress, no ventilation, no water, and overexertion or being overexercised. It is important to cool your pet down slowly with COOL water, not COLD! We teach many secrets and more ways to help cool your pet down and save their life in our Pet CPR & First Aid classes.
Contact HolyCowCritters for information on upcoming classes in your area. And please have a fantastic summer enjoying time with your pets!
Annette Lanker 253-208-4625 HolyCowCritters@gmail.com
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