Warm weather means more activity for people, pets, weather and undomesticated critters. It also brings a host of dangers for pets. Being aware of pet distress and signs of injury to the body, as well as being more careful with letting a pet outside or off-leash is key to getting your pet through the summer without incident. Following are common summertime dangers for pets and how to avoid them.
Sunburns and Skin Cancer
Animals can get sunburn the same as humans, and they can also suffer from the same discomfort. Sunburn is most often seen on pink noses and on animals with white coats and pink skin. Animals with darker coats and skin are less prone to sunburn, but they still have the potential to burn with prolonged exposure. Frequent and repeated exposure to the sun without the application of sunscreen or protective coating can eventually lead to skin cancer in the burned area.
Protect pink noses and skin with sunscreen approved for pet use only and limit exposure to bright sunlight during the summer. If blisters form, make an appointment with your veterinarian for further treatment.
Interactions with Wild Animals
Wild animals are active during the summer because it’s their time to forage, mate and raise offspring. They’re also highly defensive of themselves and even more so if they have babies. Don’t let your dog off-leash in forested or wooded areas and don’t let it approach a wild animal no matter how curious they may be. Raccoons can cause large wounds and porcupine quills often wind up in the sensitive mouths of dogs. Bring outdoor cats in at night or keep them in a safe space. Pets may not like the confinement, but they will adjust and save you the stress of an unexpected vet visit.
Animals tend to munch on plants in search of nutrition or the need to chew. Warm weather also brings plants that are poisonous to pets. They include oleander, yew, lily, azalea, kalanchoe and Oregon grape, among others. Don’t assume that your pet has the ability to sense when a plant is poisonous and take measures to keep them out of reach of a curious nose. It may not always be possible to remove every dangerous plant but do what you can to minimize the risk.
Asphalt and concrete absorb heat from the sun, causing these surfaces to become uncomfortable to walk on. Dog and cat paws are easily burned as they walk on a hot sidewalk or path made from either of these materials. And because animals are stoic and good at masking pain, you might not be aware that they have burned paws until they start limping. Try waiting until dusk or early evening to take a long walk or find a grassy surface or dirt path to for your daytime walks during the heat of the summer.
Keep an eye on your pet for signs of distress during the summer and use preventative measures to keep them safe. Cool off a hot pet with a cool, damp cloth, use sunscreen on pink noses and skin, and pay attention to the surrounding environment. If your pet doesn’t seem to be acting right even after taking precautions, call your veterinarian immediately.