Pet Summer Safety Tips
07/01/2010 - By Gayle M. Irwin
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Despite the season having its cool, rainy days, summer is in full swing in our area. With the season comes safety concerns for our pets. Here are a few tips for keeping your pets safe this summer:
• Don't leave pets unattended in your vehicle! Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, especially on warm or sunny days, even with the windows slightly open.
• Ensure your pets' vaccinations are up-to-date and that heartworm, flea and tick medications have been administered. Summer brings out rabies-carrying creatures, such as skunks and raccoons, and fleas and ticks are abundant this time of year as well. Protect your pets! Consult your veterinarian for more information on heartworm, Lyme disease, rabies and other diseases fatal to pets.
• For your cat's protection, keep her indoors! Cats can be purr-fectly content indoor pets – they just need is a bit of playtime, a cat tree and other enrichment. Keeping your kitty indoors protects her from death by car, rabies from roaming creatures, and other safety issues, such as antifreeze.
• When planning your dog's daily walk, seriously consider early morning or later in the evening for longer, cooler walks. If you have to walk mid-day, take a shorter route, and remember that sidewalks can burn the pads of a dog's paws.
• If your dog spends time outdoors in a kennel, ensure he has plenty of fresh, cool water and shelter. Rain and thunderstorms can pop up quickly, particularly in the afternoon when you may be elsewhere, such as work. And, NEVER chain or tie your dog out – lightening striking a nearby tree, heat exhaustion, dehydration and numerous insect bites are just a few of hazards posed to tethered dogs.
• Cocoa mulch, pesticides, antifreeze, and other chemicals pose dangerous risks to our pets, including death. Ensure your pet cannot get into any of these hazardous products, and highly consider using organic products for your garden and yard.
• When traveling with your pet, make sure to keep them properly restrained, in a secured carrier or special seatbelt. This not only protects your pets, but you as driver and your passengers as well – you're not as apt to be distracted if your traveling four-footed friend is properly restrained in the vehicle.
• If your pet does travel with you, make sure his/her ID tags are on the collar – you might even seriously consider microchipping your pet before traveling. Also, use a leash to walk your pet for its bathroom break. One of the worst ways to ruin your trip or vacation is to lose your pet.
• Prior to traveling, look into accommodations that accept pets. There are some great websites that can help you plan your pet-friendly vacation: www.petswelcome.com; www.travelpets.com; www.petsonthego.com.
• And, if you don't take your pet on the trip with you, look into hiring a pet sitter, someone who'll take care of your pets, your house, your mail, etc. Ask friends or your vet for recommendations, or try the following websites for certified, reliable pet sitters:
http://www.care.com/pet-care-p1005.html , HYPERLINK "http://www.sittercity.com/pet-sitting.html" http://www.sittercity.com/pet-sitting.html, or
• NEVER leave your pets home alone if you're gone for an extended period of time. Even asking friends to "drop by" to feed and water isn't enough. Bad things can happen if a pet is left alone for days – in addition to running out of water, yard and house destruction can occur, incessant barking often takes place because your pet feels abandoned, and that can result in upset and worried neighbors, and possibly a fine to you for animal abuse/neglect.
• Don't let the dog bite! Summer is the peak season for dog bites because of the increased number of children and dogs playing outdoors. Training, socialization and spaying/ neutering your dog help reduce the risk of dog bites. Also, remember to teach your children good manners around pets. To learn more about dog bites and how to prevent them, visit http://www.dog-biteprevention.com/
May you, your family, and your pets have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Gayle M. Irwin is an author/writer/speaker with strong ties to animal welfare. In addition to previously working for two different humane organizations, she has been a journalist and conservation educator. Her book publication credits include Sage's Big Adventure and Sage Learns to Share, about her blind springer spaniel named Sage. She also has a story about Sage in Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog, and she will have another story in the upcoming Chicken Soup books Devotionals for Mothers (set for publication in Fall 2010) and My Dog's Life (to be published Spring, 2011). To learn more about Irwin's writings, visit www.sagestory.com.