10 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

Hiking, backyard barbecues and days at the beach all mean lots of fun for you and your pooch, but unfortunately the summer months can also be dangerous for your four-legged friend. Dr. Karen Halligan, a respected veterinarian and national spokesperson for animals, has 10 tips to keep your pet safe    

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    1. Heatstroke_overheated dog

    1. Heatstroke Dogs with flat faces like pugs, bulldogs, or Boston terriers have a difficult time panting and thus can easily overheat. Also, dogs with heavy coats; older animals; obese dogs and cats; puppies and kittens under 6 months; pets who are ill; and pets on certain medications are at an even greater risk for overheating during the summer months. Exercising and being left in a car are the two most common causes of heatstroke in dogs and cats. 
    Copyright Lobke Peers
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    2. Prevent Parasites_Deer Tick

    2. Prevent Parasites These unwanted visitors may seem like mere nuisances, but they can cause serious, even fatal, diseases like Lyme disease and heartworm, in your pets if not dealt with properly. A new generic version of Frontline Plus, call PetArmor Plus is available to help prevent, kill, and control most of these unwelcome invaders like fleas and ticks for only pennies a day. The problem is that many pet owners wait until they see these creatures, have an infestation, or, worse, their pet becomes sick.
    Mark Plonsky
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    3. Steer Clear_Dog in Car

    3. Steer Clear  Dogs and even some cats love to ride in the car, but you absolutely must resist the urge to let them accompany you during the summer months. Once temperatures soar above 75 degrees, your car becomes a coffin. Even with the windows open, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to deadly conditions.  NEVER leave a pet in the car alone. It only takes a few minutes for the temperature to rise above 100 degrees, with fatal consequences for your pet.
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    4. Walk This Way_running with dog

    4. Walk This Way  To keep your pet from overheating, don’t exercise your cat or dog during the hottest part of the day, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and be observant of your pet when you do take them outside. Catching heat exhaustion early is the key to success in treating this all-too-common deadly condition.  Also, before starting your walk, give the sidewalk a test with the palm of your hand. If it’s too hot to touch, it can burn your pet’s footpads and you should avoid this surface. Stick to dirt paths, grass, or concrete surfaces. To help cool your pet at the end of a long walk, apply a cool, wet washcloth to the footpads.
    Blazej Lyjak
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    5. Yearly Vet Exam

    5. Yearly Vet Exam  One of the most critical actions is taking your pet in at least once a year for a complete physical and dental exam. Of course, it’s important to visit the vet when your dog or cat is ill, but many pet owners don’t recognize the value of taking their pets to the doctor even when they aren’t sick. Remember that animals are programmed to conceal illness in the wild—where it’s about survival of the fittest and the weakest animals are preyed upon first—so cats and dogs don’t always show you when they’re not feeling well.
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    6. Block That Sun_Dog swimming in pool

    6. Block That Sun  Just like humans, too much sun can cause sunburn or solar dermatitis in some animals. Sunburn usually occurs on the abdomen, bridge of the nose, ear tips, groin, and insides of the legs. The belly is prone to sunburn because of sunlight that reflects up from the sidewalk. Dogs that spend a lot of time at beaches can get sunburned as the sun reflects up from the hot, white sand.  To protect pets, you can apply sunblock to the small susceptible areas of the skin such as the bridge of the nose and ear tips. You can also apply sunblock along any part in the fur on your pet’s head and back. You should use SPF 30 and you can mix it 50/50 with Vaseline.
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    7. Insect Bites

    7. Insect Bites  Curious pets often get stung on the face and paws as they investigate or try to play with stinging creatures. Most reactions manifest themselves as swelling and itching of the face, eyes, and ears or small circular areas of swelling all over the body called hives or urticaria. These symptoms are easily treated with antihistamines like Benadryl at one mg per pound.  However, some dogs and cats will develop life-threatening clinical signs such as breathing difficulties and swollen throats, which require immediate veterinary care, and if left untreated, this can be fatal. To minimize the chance of insect bites or stings, check your yard for any nests or hives and keep pets away from these areas until you have them removed by a pest control company.
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    8. Weekly Once Over

    8. Weekly Once Over  Performing your own physical exam on your pet once a week is so important in the early detection of illness. You must become aware of your pet’s normal routines and habits. This is an easy yet indispensable way of picking up on early warning signs, such as changes in your pet’s diet, behavior, activity level, and regular routine.
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    9. Pet Proofing Against Poisons

    9. Pet Proofing Against Poisons  Pet-proofing your home, garage, and yard can make the difference between life and death for your pet. Some of the most common sources of poisoning are right in your own home and yard, and include medications, insecticides, rodenticides, pesticides, cleaning products, plants, ethylene glycol, garbage, and food poisoning. In any case of potential poisoning, it’s critical to find the container of the toxic substance and know the ingredients when seeking veterinary advice.
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    10. Who am I? Dog wearing collar

    10. Who Am I?  Summertime can mean road trips for you and your pet. Proper identification can be a matter of life and death. All pets should be wearing a properly fitting collar and ID tags at all times time. Another very important form of identification is micro-chipping, in which a tiny device is implanted beneath the skin. The chip has a number that can be read by a special scanner, and that number is registered in a national database with your name, address, and telephone number, which must be updated if you move or change phone numbers. If your pet gets lost and is turned over to a shelter or vet clinic, a scanner can be used to find out your information. Click here to learn more about Dr. Karen Halligan. VIDEO: Is Your Pet Healthy Enough?  
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