Hot dog, cool cat: Summertime pet care

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The 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Association reported that 72.9 million American households take in pets. If you live in one of these homes, these tips will help keep your pets healthy and happy all summer long.

Heat hazards
“Pets and pet parents have a lot of the same needs, and hydration is one of the most important,” said Dean Daubert, Chicago PetCo district manager. “Considering dogs sport a fur coat all year long: when the weather heats up, heatstroke and dehydration can happen more frequently. Take a portable bowl with you on any outing.”

Be cognizant that some dogs aren’t natural swimmers or show anxiety around water. Coax a pet into the water with a toy or treat, Daubert said. For landlubbers, Hydro Collection Toys offer hydration and entertainment.

“Check with the lifeguard to evaluate conditions for the day, as rough waters can exhaust a dog more easily,” Daubert said. “Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your dog’s ears and nose.”

Peter Weber, executive director of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, said to exercise dogs during cooler hours.

“Hot surfaces like asphalt, sidewalks and sand can burn dogs’ paws so it’s better to bring them out early or later in the day,” he said. “A small kiddie pool, placed in the shade with fresh water, is great for hydrating and cooling down.”

Weber said giving a fur cut or shave to longhaired breeds helps them endure hot temps better.

Pesky pests

Since veterinarians slated 2012 to be one of the worst flea and tick seasons in 10 years, animals must be protected through topical or oral monthly medicines such as Advantix and Advantage.

“Don’t neglect to treat your house, too: carpets, cushions, drapes, the yard and a pet’s bedding, kennels and favorite hangouts,” Daubert said. “Ridding your pet and their environment of these hardy pests is a tough job but you will rest easier knowing your dog doesn’t have to be subjected to terrible scratching or the diseases these parasites can inflict.”

Keep your dog up-to-date with its vaccinations, especially heartworm. Parasites are more prevalent in the summer, as dogs spend more time outside and come in contact with more animals. Keep them brushed, clean and give them preventative medicine.

VCA North Chicago Animal Hospital in Chicago cited that parasites could become dangerous not only to dogs but also to humans. The VCA experts recommend regular vet visits and administering medicine diligently. One missed dose can open opportunities for parasites. Home delivery helps ensure medicine is always on-hand.

Allow time for topical medication to take effect before your pet bathes or swims.

“Read the package insert well and double check with your veterinarian for instructions,” Weber said.

Ruff rider

When traveling a pet, Daubert said to consider the best mode of transportation as well as safety issues and potty breaks.

Daubert and Weber both insist: when traveling by car in the summer, never leave your dog unattended. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes of being exposed to warm temperatures.

“Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate,” Daubert advised. “Make sure the crate is well ventilated; put a sunshade on your car windows; bring along fresh water and a bowl and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your do.”

Weber said owners should consider restraining their pets during car rides. If an accident occurred, unrestrained dogs are more susceptible to injury and death.

According to the VCA North Chicago Animal Hospital, when traveling by plane, familiarize yourself with the airline’s pet travel requirements.

Use airlines that hand carry your pet, inside its carrier, to and from the aircraft. Otherwise, your pet might be placed on a conveyor belt with the other baggage. Take direct flights, and avoid connections and layovers. This eliminates missed baggage connections and the chance that your buddy will be left exposed in extreme weather.