Jennifer here. Yasmine asked me to blog today, and we thought tips on keeping your pets safe during the summer would be a good topic, especially since I live in Texas.
Living in Texas and having a lot of furbabies leads me to looking into things to keep them all safe in the summer heat. I have combed several websites (the links to which will be at the end of this post) to find the most common and important tips to share with you all. Also I’m going to post some pet popsicle recipes that I have found and links to those sites as well. While most of these tips are centered around dogs, since they are the pets people most commonly take outside, they are equally important for your other pets as well.
Tip 1: Never leave your pet in a parked car!
This is arguably one of the most important tips I have found. If you are going somewhere that you cannot take your pet inside then don’t take your pet. Even with windows cracked it gets dangerously hot in cars and this is deadly to your pets. While most sites center this mostly on dogs it is equally important for any other pet you might have.
Tip 2: Limit exercise outside on hot days and try to do it in the early morning or late at night.
Early in the morning or late at night in the summer are some of the coolest times and are the best times to exercise your pets. If you have to take your dog out during the heat of the day limit the time you spend out there. Also watch the humidity since your pet pants to get rid of the moisture in their lungs which helps cool them off. If it is too humid they can’t get rid of that moisture and it can make their temperatures go up very fast.
Tip 3: Provide plenty of fresh cool water.
This is a good tip all year round since your pets need a good supply of fresh water. It is most important though in the summer when dehydration is really easy to have happen. So make sure if you are out with your pet that you have access to fresh water for them to drink. Carrying water bottles for both you and your dog are a great idea to keep you both safe.
Tip 4: Watch for signs of dehydration.
This goes hand in hand with Tip 3. Since dogs don’t sweat and cool off by panting you need to watch closely to make sure they don’t dehydrate. Signs of dehydration in dogs include excessive drooling, lethargy, blood shot eyes, and if you lift their skin it will take longer to fall back into place.
Tip 5: Keep your house cool for your pets.
I know most people think this is a no brainer, but keep in mind that different pets need different temperatures to keep them comfortable. For example my pet rats have a specific temperature range both in the summer and winter to keep them comfortable and safe. Know what temps are the best for your pet and adjust your thermostat accordingly.
Tip 6: Find creative ways to keep cool.
This can help if say your air conditioner goes out or if you don’t have one. For dogs a great idea is finding a shady spot and putting a kiddie pool out with water for your dog to play in. For pet rats you can get a shallow bowl and put water in it along with frozen veggies such as peas. Then you put this where they can get to it and have fun watching them play in the water and bob for the veggies. For kitties this can be a little trickier and that’s where I use the pet popsicles which I will be posting recipes for later. The pet popsicles are pretty much a good idea for all the pets you might have so you can customize them to your pet.
Tip 7: Watch for signs of heatstroke.
The signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
The old, the young, overweight, and those that have heart or respiratory disease are more prone to heatstroke. Dogs and cats with short muzzles have a hard time breathing in extreme heat.
If your pet does get heatstroke you should move them to a shaded or air conditioned area. You can apply ice packs or cool towels to their head, neck, and chest. Also running cool (not cold) water over them and let them take small drinks of water or lick from an ice cube. Take them straight to a veterinarian.
Tip 8: Be vigilant with health care.
This is something you should do year round, but with more outside time in the summer it is doubly important. Take your pet in for a full checkup including heartworm tests and flea and tick prevention.
Tip 9: Keeping your dog off of hot concrete or asphalt.
Remember if it is too hot for you to walk on a surface without shoes it is too hot for your dog to walk on it. You can get doggie boots to help with this issue or stick to grassy areas.
Tip 10: Soothe burns safely.
As can happen with people your pets can get sunburned. To safely soothe your pets burns use a thin layer of aloe vera twice daily. Always always check with your vet first though to make sure the brand is safe.
Here are links for the sites I used to get my tips and they have many more as well:
The Humane Society: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html
Now as promised here are a couple of pet popsicle recipes and the sites to find more ideas.
I got this recipe from the Humane Society website and they have other ideas on there as well: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/animal_treats/dog_popsicles.html
1 cup peanut butter, preferably unsalted and unsweetened (Check your peanut butter’s label to make sure it doesn’t contain any kind of xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.)
Half a ripe banana, mashed
Water as needed
In a small mixing bowl, combine peanut butter with a little water or half a mashed banana. (The water and banana aren’t essential, but they help with freezing consistency.)
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, or use Kong-style rubber toys that have a cavity you can fill.
Spoon the mixture onto the tray just like you would cookie dough, or stuff it into the toys. Freeze the tray or toys for several hours or overnight. If you need to reuse the tray right away, pop out the cubes and store them in a bag or container in the freezer.
Serve, and turn any hot dog into a happy camper.
This one I got from Banfield’s site and they also have other ideas as well.
Purr-fect Puff Pops
A tail-twitching, whisker-lickin’ treat that is sure to get a meow from your favorite feline!
1 hard-boiled egg
1⁄2 cup of honey
1 long sliced carrot
6-ounce can of tuna in water
Mash the hard-boiled egg and put it into a bowl. Add honey, carrot and tuna. Mix together and roll into marble-sized balls. Place the puffs in a sealed container and keep refrigerated until they turn into chilled pops. Then serve.
1 puff pop for an adult cat and 1⁄2 pop for a kitten.
You can create your own ideas for pet pops, but be sure you know what foods are safe for your pet. These sites will let you know the unsafe foods for dogs, cats, and rats.