Tips for keeping your pets safe during the summer

The old saying “the dog days of summer” wasn’t coined for nothing. The phrase actually stems from the stars, as Sirius, the “Dog Star,” rises in conjunction with the sun between July and August. Some of our ancestors believed that the brightness of the sun and star combined to cause summer’s extreme heat.

Over the years, however, we’ve come to use the expression for sweltering days that aren’t fit for any dog. The truth is that dogs are more susceptible to the summer heat than we are. They have to wear a fur coat all year round. Whereas we can sweat to cool ourselves down, our pups sweat only through glands on the nose and paws and try to release heat by panting.

They can’t cool themselves off like humans. They can’t roll down the car windows or turn on the air conditioning. It’s up to humans to make sure that their dogs are comfortable enough and that they can live healthily in the summer heat.

It’s important for pet owners to do what they can to keep their furry friends cool and recognize signs of discomfort. Veterinarians say signs of overheating include panting hard. But heat stroke symptoms can include a staggered gait, rapid heartbeat, listlessness, restlessness, vomiting and a darkening of the gums and tongue. If your dog’s bodily temperature rises above the normal range of up to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, it may be time to take the dog to a veterinarian or animal hospital.

Summer Don’ts There are several summer hazards pet owners should be aware of. Here are five things you should never do with your dog:

  • Don’t leave your dog in a parked car. Even with the window cracked, temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees in the space of a few minutes. Pets are in danger of heat stroke when the indoor temperature reaches 110 degrees. Even when it’s 70 degrees outside, it is going to be suffocating in a quick amount of time in that car.
  • Don’t tie your pet outside in the blazing sun. Our canine pals need an escape during sunny summer months, so if you plan to let your pet outside, make sure that it can find shelter under a tree shade, a porch or other structure. The heat is not only a danger to your dog, but your pet can also become sunburned if it’s a thin-coated or wire-haired breed.
  • Don’t put sunscreen made for humans on your pooch. Chemicals in some sunscreens can be harmful if pets ingest them. What dog won’t try to lick off the gooey white substance if given the option? Pet stores sell sunscreens formulated especially for dogs.
  • Don’t exercise your pup under the midday sun. Chasing sticks or a Frisbee, or even a long walk, can put extra strain on a dog during peak sun times. The heat of the day can take a toll particularly on dogs who are overweight, older or who have certain diseases.
  • Don’t walk your dog on asphalt unless you test the temperature. A dog’s paw pads are susceptible to burns. Slip off your shoes and stand on the pavement with bare feet first. If it’s not comfortable for you, it’s not going to be comfortable for your dog either.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool

  • Put warm — never cold — water on your pup’s paws to help them cool down. Even better is rubbing alcohol instead of water, which will cool as it evaporates from your pet’s pads.
  • Turn on a sprinkler outside for your dog to run through or buy a $5 plastic kiddie pool for your pup. Place it in the shade and fill it with a few inches of water for splashing and fun.
  • Brush your dog’s coat to get the knots out and add a bit of water to help cool your pet. This will happen as the water evaporates.  Also, schedule a grooming session or a shave for long-coated dogs or those with a heavy undercoat.
  • Fill your dog’s bowl regularly with cool water.  Add a few ice cubes to give your canine something cool to gnaw on.
  • Set up an old beach umbrella in the yard for your dog to lie under. Buy a well-ventilated doghouse and keep it in the shade. Some pet stores now sell misters that attach to a doghouse and spray water throughout the day.
  • Plug in a portable electric fan and aim it toward your pet.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and gently mist your dog. Some may try to playfully bite the spray or stream.
  • Encourage your pet to lie down indoors on a tile floor, such as in a bathroom or kitchen. Ceramic tiles stay cooler than wood floors or carpet. Wet a towel for your dog to lie down on and place it on a surface that stays cool in the shade, like concrete, marble or tile.
  • Take a cool, wet towel and wipe down your dog, making sure to wipe the inside of your pup’s ears. Body heat is dispersed in the capillaries that line your dog’s ears, making coolness there especially important. Make sure to wring out the towel first because pooled water can lead to ear infections.
  • If your dog will be outside for part of the day, provide a large bowl for water that can’t be tipped over, leaving your dog without it.
  • Instead of playing outside in the heat, toss a ball for your dog indoors. Plan your playtime or your daily walk for early in the morning or at dusk.

TRAVELING WITH YOUR DOG

Taking the family dog along on your vacation can be fun for everyone if you plan carefully. Here are some tips to make traveling with your dog enjoyable and worthwhile.  The following tips are for all dogs, not just mi-kis.

Health and Safety

  • Health Check-up. Bring your dog to the vet for a check up before going on an extended trip. Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and remember to bring these records with you. Health certifications are required for airline travel.
  • Bring along a supply of their regular food and some local, or bottled, water. Be sure to bring any medications your pet is currently taking.
  • Make sure your pet is protected against fleas and ticks.  Remember, you may be taking potty breaks in areas that might be infested with them.

Crates and Kennels

A crate or airline approved carrier is an excellent way to keep your dog safe in the car.  It can also keep your little one from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host’s home.  Remember to:

  • Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and a water bottle.
  • Proper identification on the crate or kennel, just in case.
  • Note: Mi-Kis should never, ever travel in cargo area of a plane.  Always take them on board with you and stow under the seat in front of you.

Identification

In the event that your dog gets away from you on your trip, you can increase the chances of recovery by making sure he/she can be properly identified:

  • Make sure your dog has a sturdy leash and collar. The collar should have identification tags with the dog’s name, your name, and your home phone number, as well as proof of rabies shots.
  • I cannot stress enough how important it is to microchip your pet.
  • Bring a recent picture of your dog along with you.

Traveling by Car

  • Get your dog used to the car by letting him/her sit in it with you without leaving the driveway, and then going for short rides.
  • Avoid car-sickness by letting your dog travel on an empty stomach.  Make sure to have plenty of water available at all times.
  • Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
  • Do not let your dog ride with his head sticking out of an open window. Not only can this lead to potential eye injury from flying debris but also possible injury from a passing vehicle.
  • Never let your dog ride in the back of an open truck. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to severe injuries or death.
  • Stop frequently for exercise and potty breaks. Be sure to clean up after your dog.
  • Car rides are boring for everyone, so instruct your children not to tease or annoy the dog in the car.
  • Never, ever leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, particularly in the summer. If you must leave the car, designate a member of the family to stay with the dog.

By Plane

  • Each airline has its own set of rules for canine air travel. Every airline posts their rules for bringing your pet on board so please read that information before you book your trip.  Also remember that even if an airline permits pets on board, not all planes are equipped for them to travel under the seat.  Check with the airline prior to booking to save yourself undue stress.
  • All airlines require health certifications and proof of vaccinations.
  • Some airlines will not transport animals in cargo when it is extremely hot or cold.
  • Dogs must be in an airline-approved crate when transported as cargo. Small dogs may ride under the seat in an airline approved crate or carrier.

By Train, Bus and Boat

If you plan to travel by train or bus, you may be disappointed. Dogs are not permitted on Amtrak trains or on buses operated by Greyhound and other interstate bus companies. (Service dogs are permitted.) Local rail and bus companies have their own policies.

You may fare better if you’re taking a cruise. The QE2 luxury cruiser, which sails from New York to England/France, provides special lodging and free meals for your dog. However, you should check the policies of the cruise line or ship you will be traveling on before making plans to take your dog on a cruise with you.

Lodging

  • Find out in advance which hotels or motels at your destination or on your route allow dogs. Many do not, or have size or breed restrictions and make charge a pet fee.
  • If your dog is allowed to stay at a hotel, respect other guests, staff and the property.
  • Keep your dog as quiet as possible.
  • Do not leave the dog unattended. Many dogs will bark or destroy property if left alone in a strange place.  Keep your dog safe by putting them in the carrier or kennel while you are out of the room.
  • Ask the management where you should walk your dog, and pick up after him/her. Do not leave any mess behind.

Remember that one bad experience with a dog guest may prompt the hotel management to refuse to allow any dogs. Be considerate of others and leave your room and the grounds in good condition.

HAPPY TRAVELS!

 

HOLIDAY PET SAFETY TIPS

While the holiday season is a time of celebration with friends and family, including our furry friends, cold weather, decorations and parties can create safety hazards for your pets.  Here are some simple tips that will ensure that your holidays stay festive and your pets stay safe.

Cold weather hazards:

De-icing products, salt and ice can get into your pets fur/hair and paws causing skin irritations and possible more serious conditions.  Thoroughly wipe your pet’s paws and tummy when he comes in from the cold.

Not everyone thinks that a pet needs to be dressed up in clothes. However, in the cold of winter, our pets don’t always have enough insulation from the cold.  Cover the pads of the paws with booties or socks.  Provide them with a sweater or jacket when it’s cold and/or rainy.  Dry them off when you bring them in from the weather.  A good belly rub always feels good anyway.

Holiday decorations:

Ingestion of glass,metal, ribbons or tinsel can lead to serious medical emergencies.  Snow globes and artificial snow contain chemicals that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled.  Ivy, holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, lilies and holiday greens can be toxic if ingested. Keep your pets away from that Christmas tree water as well.

Party time:

Everyone loves a party but sometimes the hustle and bustle can frighten your little guys and cause them to take off as soon as that door opens for your guests.  Designate a quiet, secure “pet room” away from the crowd and be sure that your pet is microchipped or wearing a collar with current ID tags.

No table scraps:

Resist the urge to give your pets scraps from the table. Fatty holiday meats can cause a number of gastrintestinal problems while bones can cause bowel obstructions or choking.  Most important – No chocolate.  The sweet stuff contains a chemical that is highly toxic to pets.