As the weather gets warmer I notice that my routine changes. I take my long walks in the early morning and my owner carries my water bottle with her whether we walk into town or go in the car. In summer the scorching pavement sometimes makes my paws hurt and I don’t like that one bit. Thinking of my hot paws made me wonder if there were to other things I should know about being safe in the summertime, so I decided to talk to a veterinarian, Julie Slavin of Visiting Veterinary Practice of Westchester.
“The warm summer months offer great opportunities for outdoor play with pets, but there are several precautions to take to prevent some commonly encountered problems,” said Dr. Slavin. I knew that I needed to drink more water and I asked her about that. Dr. Slavin said that unlike people, dogs don’t sweat and can’t regulate their body temperature so they are at great risk to get very sick from the heat. And she also said that like walking on hot pavement, walking on hot sand can cause painful burns to pets’ footpads.
Once a month my owner gives me an extra little treat with my dinner. Dr. Slavin said that my treat was actually medicine to prevent heartworm disease. Mosquitoes spread the disease and they are around a lot in the summer. “Parasite populations are at their highest numbers during the summer months–fleas, ticks and mites as well as internal parasites,” says Dr. Slavin. “My owner checks me for ticks each time we come in from the outside and I get monthly treatment for them too, but not just in the summer. “Consistency in administration is key,” says Slavin.
I ride in the car more in the summer time, and whenever we travel, I always ride in my crate. Dr. Slavin says that if your dog doesn’t like the crate, you can always use a harness type seatbelt. I love to go in the car but not all dogs do. “Car travel can be very stressful for some animals,” says Dr. Slavin. “If your pet is an inexperienced traveler, short ‘practice’ trips will help to get them acclimated prior to a longer trip.” And she had other good advice: don’t let your pet eat too much before you leave on a trip. “Some pets experience nausea and this can lead to vomiting.”
I’ve never flown in a plane, but if we do, I am small enough to travel in the cabin. Dr. Slavin says unless a dog can travel in the cabin, it’s not a good idea to travel by plane during the summer. “Larger dogs are placed in the cargo hold where the temperatures are not well regulated which can lead to overheating.”
I am lucky because my owner takes me on trips with her. Not all dogs can do this. Some have to be boarded at a kennel. Dr. Slavin recommends that you visit the facility ahead of time to see if it is a good place for your dog and see if it is clean. Ask to see the size of the enclosure where your pet will be spending most of its time. “See where they will be exercised and how often and meet the people who will be caring for your pet,” says Dr. Slavin. She also adds a note of warning: because of the potential risk of exposure to infectious diseases at boarding facilities, like kennel cough and influenza, make sure your pet is appropriately vaccinated. “Not every pet should be boarded,” says Dr. Slavin, “especially those that suffer from chronic illness, are immunosuppressed, elderly or suffer from anxiety.” Pet sitters in the home would be a better choice for these pets.
And then we got the most important advice of all: “Never leave your pet in a car without air conditioning. In minutes, a parked car can turn into an oven and kill your pet.”
I can’t wait to see what adventures I’ll have this summer. And I hope that I will see all my dog friends keeping cool!
For more hot weather tips for pets you can go to the ASPCA website: www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/hot-weather-tips.aspx
Contact Maggie Mae Pup Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maggie Mae lives in Chappaqua with her adoring owner Ronni Diamondstein, who, when she isn’t walking Maggie is a freelance writer, PR consultant, award-winning photographer and a School Library Media Specialist and teacher who has worked in the US and abroad.