It is now officially spring and that time of year that we come out of hibernation, open our doors and windows and spend more and more time outside with friends, family and our pets. As a responsible pet owner, you can take a few simple steps to keep your pet healthy and happy.
Your pet is part of your family and deserves to be cared for and protected. Whether it’s how to keep your pet protected in the event that he or she becomes separated from you, what to do to keep your pet safe at home or protected in the summer heat, there are a number of things we would like to share.
Protect your pet
You can keep your pets safe and reduce the likelihood that they’ll become lost or stolen by following these tips:
- Provide your pet with a collar and ID tags (keep recent photos and written descriptions of your companion animals on hand at all times)
- Keep your pet indoors when you’re not home
- Have your pet microchipped. Collars can be pulled or fall off, so this more permanent identifier and provides an excellent way to ensure you are able to reunite.
- Consider downloading the new smartphone app: Finding Rover and register your pet by taking his/her photo
- Spay and neuter your pet. Some studies have shown that sterilized animals are less likely to roam
- Leash your pet when outside—cats too!
- Make sure you are careful when guests come by to avoid inadvertent escape
General Safety Tips
While many of these are common sense, they are included here as a friendly reminder.
- Establish a veterinary-patient relationship and make sure your pet has annual checkups
- Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccines, especially rabies
- Know how to perform CPR and provide basic first aid. See our article about pet first aid programs
- Give your pet plenty of exercise. Regular exercise will help your pet feel better and live longer
- Use gates and childproof latches to keep pets out of inappropriate areas within the home
- Place medications, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies out of reach
- Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet
- Place dangling wires from lamps, televisions, stereos and telephones out of reach
- Keep the toilet lid closed to prevent drowning or drinking of harmful cleaning chemicals
- Move house plants that may be poisonous out of reach (the most important is the EASTER Lily)
- Learn about foods to avoid that may be hazardous to your pet (e.g., chocolate, onions, raisins and grapes)
- Clean all antifreeze from the floor and driveway, as one taste can be lethal to animals
- Make sure your kitten doesn’t get into danger (e.g., that he/she hasn’t jumped into the dryer before you turn it on.
- Put away all sewing and craft notions, especially thread.
- Do not unleash your pet in unfamiliar territory
- Avoid interactions with unknown dogs (bite wounds)
Keep your pet safe in the summer heat
Follow these simple tips to help your pet stay healthy and comfortable when the summer heat sizzles.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car
- Watch the humidity. It’s not just the high temps that can affect your pet. If the humidity is too high they are unable to cool themselves and their temperature can skyrocket, leading to heat stroke, which can be deadly in dogs.
- Limit exercise on hot days (e., quiet walk). Consider early morning or late at night as these are cooler parts of the day and will make the walk more comfortable for both you and your dog.
- Watch for signs of dehydration. Dogs do not sweat like people, but instead cool off by panting and through their feet. Small kiddie pools are useful in helping to keep your dog cooled.
- Cats sweat through their paws, not by panting, like dogs. Keeping your cat inside in an air conditioned room, in front of a circulating fan or on a cool floor can help.
- Be particularly careful with snub-nosed dogs such as Bulldogs and Pugs. They have smaller airways than other dogs so it is more difficult for them to pant to release heat.
- Watch out for hot pavement. You might consider doggie booties available at your local pet supply store. Heat rises from the ground, especially asphalt, and since dogs absorb and release heat through their feet, walking on hot pavement can be dangerous for your dog.
- Provide ample shade and water. Add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow (as compared to a doghouse, for example). However, use your judgment: it’s best not to leave your dog outside if it’s hot.
- Make sure to know your dog’s swimming ability. When your pet is cooling off in a pool or maybe you’re taking him or her on a boat, use a life jacket, if appropriate. While you may think your dog can do the doggie paddle, some dogs just can’t swim.
Spring is a time of new beginnings so take the time to make sure that this season proves to be a healthy and happy one for you, your family and pets by following these pet safety tips.