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Getting pets ready for summer

May 27, 2014 - Jenny Rukenbrod
Busy as bees, we rush to complete our "to do" list so we can dash to the hammock for some relaxation. Sunshine and watersports are this season's luxuries. So, along with the news segments about water safety for your human family, remember to take time to plan for your fur covered family members as well. We take for granted that they know enough to prevent harm when instead they will brave the elements to stay beside the people they adore.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and the second most common in cats? So, don't forget that pet safe sunscreen (ingredients such as zinc oxide found in sunscreen meant for humans can be toxic to pets). Where your pet lacks enough hair to protect sensitive skin, like bellies on dogs and ears and eye areas on cats, slather on that protective lotion.

One would think that this one doesn't need to be repeated, but the frequency of occurrence is astonishing and sickening. NEVER, ever leave your pet in a car, even on a mild day with the windows cracked. Temps can soar in moments. Also, choose a cooler time of day, like the evening to exercise your pet. Heat and humidity cause breathing difficulty and sensitive paw pads can be scorched by the hot pavement. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them. Turn on the air conditioner and stay indoors.

I have personal experience with heatstroke as my senior girl experienced it while walking leisurely on a sunny and mildly humid day. It was horrifying and we are lucky that I recognized the signs immediately and took action. Heat stroke is deadly. If you see a pet in a car or on hot pavement, advocate for them as you would a child. Laws provide a remedy to protect or save the life of a pet which will die quickly once physical signs appear.

Once again, as you would with a child employ the same caution when around an open body of water. Equip your pet with a brightly colored life vest so it is visible to other boaters and swimmers. Lake algae can be toxic if ingested even if it comes from exposed fur. For pool loving dogs, don't assume they know how to exit safely. Teach them where the steps are and always supervise pool activity.

Most dog owners know that chocolate can be poisonous. So too is its cousin, the cocoa bean which is used as landscape mulch. If ingested, it can be lethal. Flowering plants like azaleas and lilies are deadly not only to dogs, but cats. Make sure the plant food is out of reach since it contains potentially fatal pesticides.

What summer season is complete without a healthy dose of awe inspiring fireworks? This is where you and your pet part ways. Fireworks are the number one cause of pet runaway caused by panic and fear during the summer months. Livestock and wildlife are included in this advisory. Keep domestic pets and livestock safely contained when fireworks are in the forecast.

In a community where people and pets are connected, safety is everyone's business. Summer is a special time. Now, hurry up and ENJOY!


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