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Summer Sun, Heat and More Can Ruin Your Fun


Making sure your pet has water on a summer day is just one important step to protecting your pet.
With summer months fast approaching, you and your pets are likely to venture outdoors more.

That’s great news. Especially with the past year’s challenge, nothing beats a walk outdoors or playing in the backyard with your furry friend.

But caution is needed. Although we can usually take safety for ourselves and pets for granted, the potential for injury exists. And worse, our pets are Academy-Award level performers. Their every instinct is to hide injury or illness, a carryover from living in the wild when showing weakness usually brought death.

Take one example: It’s a beautiful June day so you and your dog go for a walk. The sidewalk is smooth and entices you out for longer than expected. It’s warm, but not uncomfortable.

But when you get back, you notice your dog is not walking normally. He or she seems to be favoring its paws. When the behavior continues the next day, you call your vet and, a few days later, you learn your dog’s pads are burned from walking on the hot sidewalk. You didn’t even notice it through your expensive shoes, but your dog suffered a painful injury that won’t heal overnight. It’s an expensive lesson, for both you and your dog.

Pet insurance claims also show that summer brings an increase in sickness and injury for dogs and cats. One reason is that they are simply outside more during the summer. But it’s also true because everything from parasites like ticks to sunburn and heat injury are far more likely. And most surprising of all, many of these ailments are difficult for your pet to handle.

Even More

A complete list of potential summer pet threats would be too long for any single article. Like the burned paws, many are difficult for owners to detect while they’re happening.

Sunburn is a good example. Pets with short and/or light-colored fur are prone to sunburn, just like fair skinned people. And just like humans, pets can suffer from itchy, peeling skin or even pain from a bad sunburn. As with people, it’s smart to apply pet-specific sun lotion on such pets, especially on exposed areas around the ears and mouth. Be especially cautious when the sun is at its peak, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Remember that heat issues will often linger to 4 or even 6 p.m.

A final note on heat: most pets are more susceptible to heat injury than humans. Your pet may be in better shape than you, but human bodies generally deal with heat better than most fur-covered animals, who can only sweat with their tongues. This is especially important if you like going for runs with your dog, but it’s also relevant on many other occasions.

Foreign Bodies

Many issues can be equally difficult to anticipate. Ticks and other parasites are an obvious example, but so is a yellow jacket nest in your backyard where only a pet would be likely to find it. Likewise, your latest home project may leave chemical or other residue that could be dangerous to pets, like anti-freeze or weed killer. A quick yard survey with your pet in mind may be all that’s needed to help you and your pet.

This is also why ensuring your pet has water outdoors is important. Whether you’re on a walk or in the backyard, having water available keeps your pet hydrated and also reduces the likelihood they’ll be tempted to drink from a gutter or puddle, where chemicals and other toxins may – or even probably – collect.

Even seemingly trivial practices like brushing your pet can help. Matted or tangled fur is much worse at keeping a pet cool and protected from heat, and it also may hide insects that can harm your pet. If regular brushing is not an option, consider the option of shaving your pet for the summer – though keep in mind that will increase the risk of sunburn.

Summer is a great time for you and your pet. A little care will make it even better for both of you.