It’s here. It is finally here. After a harsh winter in Texas, shorts go outside and white legs flash underneath. Yes, Texans from Austin to Dallas, to Houston, to the tiny towns on the eastern border are already working on their pots.
Somewhere among the screaming appeals of the Persian Gulf, however, an appeal for safety is equally important. Summer brings great times – trips to the water, barbecues with neighbors, long walks in the park, holidays all over the country, and for some patients with conditions such as seasonal effect disease (SAD) and even relief. But with these pleasures and privileges come risks, not only for ourselves but for our pets as well.
No one is more excited about summer than our pet companions, especially dogs. This means more excursions, more car trips, more walks, more time with the people they love most. In the United States alone there are millions of pet owners, and this number is growing, including those who think of their pets as children. More and more people are buying pet health insurance with their own policies, gourmet shops are appearing everywhere, and even the local grocery stores in Dallas and Houston seem to offer a wide range of pet toys. So before taking any wanderings – through the city or across the country – at temperatures as low as 90 F in Texas, make sure to review these summer recommendations for pet care as summarized in the Humane Society’s guidelines.
Let’s hope it’s obvious: Make sure your pet has plenty of food, water, and shade. Animals can overheat quickly, so if the conditions are not right, death can occur in one day. Check the water often, make sure it is cool and plenty of water. If your pet lives outdoors, secure a cool, shady place to escape the heat. Excessive heat is unhappy for everyone – including your pets.
If you can avoid combining pets into a chain, do it. Staying on a leash for a longer period of time can literally lead your pet to madness. If the chain is a daily operation, make sure it’s as short as possible, let it or take off frequent breaks from the leash and make sure your pet can comfortably reach for food, water, and shade. Place all food and water away from the chain so that they are not overturned by animal movements.
Consider alternatives as well. Try the obedience course. Many dogs with good training will remain exactly where they have been told until further notice. Technological progress has been made in recent years and new choices are available. For example, “invisible fences” are now affordable on the market – many of them are one-off investments of several hundred dollars.
It is tempting to take our pets, especially our dogs, to these everyday matters. With such a busy life, a small car adventure seems to be the perfect way to spend time with our companions’ pets when we’re still doing something. But at temperatures like this, it’s just not wise. The interior of a car can heat up to 120 F in a few minutes, even in the shade. Because dogs and cats can’t sweat, but only dissipate heat through foot pillows or spraying, these temperatures can be fatal, even temporarily. Leave your pets at home while you’re doing business and devote this special time to your pet friends when you return.
Exercises are just as important for the health of our animals as our own. Pay attention to temperature. On hot days it’s a good idea to go for a walk early in the morning or in the evening. Watch out for signs of anxiety and exercise your pet on cool, soft grass if possible. Asphalt can heat up to air bubbles and can literally burn your pet’s foot pillows. Supervising the game in the pool as well. The unprotected pool has resulted in many unhappy animal deaths, which looks just as encouraging as it looks at us.
Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion, especially in older, short-lived and coarse-covered dogs. Signs of danger include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, instability, staggering gait, vomiting and deep red or purple tongue. If heat depletion occurs, take your pet immediately to a cool, shaded area, pour cool (not cold) water over it and place cool towels around the head, chest, and neck. Encourage your pet to drink small amounts of water at once or to lick the ice cube. Then take your pet to your vet straight away.