Protecting your pets during summer months

Many summer travel plans are appropriate for pets to join in on the fun. But, just like we need to be safely secured in a car, so do our pets. There are various safety precautions to follow during the summer months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Crawford)

Many summer travel plans are appropriate for pets to join in on the fun. But, just like we need to be safely secured in a car, so do our pets. There are various safety precautions to follow during the summer months. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Crawford)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE N.D -- Temperatures during the summer months around the Minot area can reach the 90's to over 100 degrees. This intense heat can not only be dangerous for humans but our pets as well.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, many of the safety concerns we have for ourselves during the hottest months of the year also apply to our pets. Consistent use of sunscreen in order to avoid sun damage is as important for our pets as it is for us. This is especially important if your pet has short hair, white fur or pink skin. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a sunscreen and be sure to limit your pet's sun exposure.

Limiting and supervising time outdoors during the hottest hours of the day is also important for your pets because when it's hot for you, it's probably even hotter for them, according to the AAHA. Dogs aren't as efficient at cooling down as we are, since they release most of their body heat only through the pads of their feet and by panting. Be especially careful with dogs that have short, pushed-in faces, puppies and elderly pets. Early-morning and evening hours are best for outdoor playtime, be sure to provide plenty of water and even ice cubes.

If you use fertilizers or other chemicals on your lawn or garden, make sure your pet doesn't have access to these potentially toxic substances. Car antifreeze is also potentially life-threatening to pets and may leak from an overheating car.

If you're lucky, you and your pets will get to spend some time cooling down near water, whether a pool, lake or the ocean. But even dogs who are good swimmers need to be protected around water. If you have a pool, keep in mind your dog might jump in and not be able to figure out how to get out, so just as with children, never leave your pet unsupervised around water.

Additionally, mosquitoes, ticks, heartworm and other bugs and parasites are out in full force in the summer. Furthermore, these pests can infect your dog or cat and cause potentially serious medical issues. Your pet might also carry these bugs and parasites into your home, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian about a preventative.

"Many animals don't react well to the storms that are common in summer," said Rodney Kraus, 5th Bomb Wing Safety office. "They may have a response to the change in air pressure or to the sound of thunder. Be sure to teach them to have a place they can safely rest, such as a crate."

Many summer travel plans are appropriate for pets to join in on the fun. But, just like we need to be safely secured in a car, so do our pets. They should travel in an appropriately sized crate or in a harness secured to a seat belt. Also, be especially careful not to leave your pet unsupervised in a car, even for just a moment, as animals can quickly overheat.

Pets that remain alone during a vacation need to be supervised and cared for by a responsible party who has been identified to the housing office. This ensures your pet will be properly monitored while you are away.

If you take the proper precautions, you and your pets should enjoy a wonderful summer. But, if you suspect your pet may be suffering from heatstroke, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, bright-red tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and body temperature of 104-110 F.
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