Summer is Here! Tips on How to Keep Your Pets Safe Outdoors

Summer is officially here, and we know many of you are going to be spending more time outdoors with your pets in the coming weeks and months.  Long walks, swimming, camping, hiking – the list of activities is endless.  It is important if you are participating in all the summer activities, however, that you make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your pets’ safe.  Here, we have provided some tips and things to consider when taking your pets with you on your summer adventures.

  1. Consider the temperature

As temperatures rise, so does the risk of heatstroke in our pets.  Knowing what signs to look for is extremely important anytime, but especially in the summer months.  The most common signs of heatstroke are:

  • Heavy panting
  • Increased salivation (drooling)
  • Dry or sticky gums
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Unwillingness to walk or move
  • Muscle weakness or collapse
  • Seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.  Avoid keeping your pet out in the sun for long periods of time, and make sure to provide plenty of shade and water for them if they must be outside.

Never leave your pet in a hot car, even with the windows cracked and in the shade, and even if you are only going to leave them for a couple minutes.  The temperature inside a car raises exponentially, which could result in an emergency situation very quickly.

Dogs with short noses and pushed in faces, such as pugs and bulldogs, have a much higher risk of heatstroke, so that is also something to keep in mind.

Another factor that is important to consider is the temperature of the pavement or asphalt in the area your dog will be.  Pavement or asphalt that is too hot will cause burns to the paw pads, which can prove extremely painful and increase risk of infection.  Before taking your dog on walks or letting them out on the patio, place the back of your hand directly on the pavement.  If it feels too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your pet’s paws.  If you spend a lot of time in paved areas, consider getting booties for your dog to wear while outside.

  1. Parasite Prevention

We talk a lot about parasite prevention in our office, but that is because it is so important! This is even more true in the summer months.  Ticks reside on all kinds of brush and plants, so any dog that goes out hiking, camping, or even just walking in a more wooded area should be on some form of flea and tick preventative.  Not only are ticks a nuisance in that they can cause anemia, but many of them also carry horrible diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever,  Anaplasmosis, and many more.  Even if your pet is on a preventative, be sure to check them thoroughly for ticks after they have been outside.

Mosquitos are also much more active in the warmer months (though we do have them year round in our area), so heartworm preventative is also extremely important.  Washoe County is seeing an increase in heartworm positive pets, so it has become more crucial than ever to make sure your pet is protected.  Most heartworm preventatives are a chewable tablet that you give once a month, making it such an easy process.  The preventative then works backwards to kill off any larvae that may have been transmitted in the last 30 days.

  1. Microchip you Pets

Making sure that your pet is microchipped AND that the information associated with that microchip is up to date can make a world of difference if your pet does happen to get lost during your summer travels.  You should also have a collar and tags on your dogs if taking them out of the home, but a microchip will give that added security should the collar and/or tags fall off or become damaged.

  1. Vaccinate Your Pets

Making sure your pets are vaccinated against things like Rabies and Leptospirosis can be the difference between life and death should your pet encounter these diseases.  Many boarding facilities also require the kennel cough and influenza vaccines, so you may want to make sure your pet is up to date should you be going out of town.

  1. Be Prepared

Before taking your pet on your excursions, make sure that you have everything you need for any situation. We recommend always having the following on your person or at the very least in your car:

  • A sturdy, non-retractable leash
  • Collar & ID tags with current information
  • Drinking water with a bowl
  • Food if going to be out for a significant period of time
  • A muzzle, in case your dog gets injured – they are more likely to bite when they are in pain
  • A blanket or towel – this can be used as a sling to help transport your pet should a significant injury occur
  • Booties for your pet to wear to prevent paw pad burns
  • A first aid kit, ideally with the following contents:
    • Benadryl in case your pet is bit or stung by a snake or insect – the dose is 1 mg/lb and can be given every 8 hours
    • Antiseptic wipes or wound cleaner
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Tweezers
    • Safety Pins
    • Slip Leash
    • Bandage material – non stick or absorbent material (sanitary pads work), telfa, gauze, padding, vet wrap/co-band, tape, ace bandage
    • Eye wash
    • Thermometer
    • Lube
    • Styptic powder

Finally, we recommend taking note of your veterinarian’s hours of business and having a backup plan if they are closed or are unable to take you in an emergency.  Always be sure you are aware of the nearest veterinary ER and what their hours of business are.

Everyone wants to enjoy their summer; we just want to help you do so while being as safe and prepared as possible!  Happy summer!

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