Everyone knows not to leave a pet in a hot car during the summer — but there's much more to keeping pets safe during the warmer months. Whether you're planning to travel with your pet, or they will be spending more time outdoors or exposed to other potential seasonal risks, here some important pet safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your dog or cat (or bird or fish) have a safe and happy summer.
visit the vet
Schedule your pet for a seasonal checkup at the vet. Be sure vaccinations are up to date — and ask for advice if you have any specific, seasonal concerns. Also, have dogs checked for heartworm, a parasite transmitted by an infected mosquito.
watch out for open doors
Summer's the season for propping doors open — and going in and out of the house more often. This increases the risk of an indoor cat ending up outdoors or a dog roaming beyond the yard. Be mindful, and also don't forget to be sure any windows you open throughout the house have screens.
get id tags
If your dog or cat runs away or is lost, you want to be sure the Good Samaritan that finds him or her can identify the owner and arrange a safe return. Invest in a sturdy collar, an ID tag, and if possible, a microchip.
prepare for visitors
With outdoor entertaining in full swing, your household may play host to new people or more guests than usual. Keep in mind that these may be strangers to your pet and upset his or her routine. The stress may lead to bad behavior, including barking, jumping, nipping, or hiding. Keep an eye on both your guests and your pets.
Just because you're at work all day doesn't mean you should let the house temperatures run too hot or too cold, assuming you'll adjust the air when you get home. If you have a pet who's home, make sure the temperature is cool (or warm) enough for their comfort throughout the day.
remember pool safety
Before inviting guests to jump in the pool, remember the invitation shouldn't extend to pets. If the dog is allowed to take a quick dip, make sure to supervise and assist.
watch out for forbidden foods
Beware of pets having what they shouldn't, especially when it comes to summertime foods that might be accidentally left within easy reach such as greasy foods, s'mores, or corn cobs. These "treats" can lead to upset stomachs or worse. The American Kennel Club points out that chocolate is toxic to dogs, and depending on the type and amount of chocolate consumed and the weight of the dog, it could cause a serious medical emergency.
check for ticks and fleas
With pets spending more time outdoors, be sure to check them carefully if you live in an area prone to ticks and fleas. Inspect their fur and be sure they haven't been bitten or worse, have an infestation of bugs on their skin. Ticks can lead to serious diseases including Lyme disease or a rare but serious meat allergy.
beware of pesticides
Pesticides may help some gardeners ward off unwanted insects — but you don't want your dog or cat to be eat or roll around in anything that may have been recently treated. Know what you (or your neighbor or the local park) are using on outdoor plants and lawns, and know that if your dog gets into it, it will likely come home to you, too. To reduce the risk in your own yard, consider going organic in the garden.
keep pets hydrated
Pets need to be kept properly hydrated, especially in warmer weather. Make sure ample water is available at home and on the road. It's a good idea to carry bottled water and a portable bowl, and consider switching to wet food or offering ice cubes to sneak liquids into your pet's diet.
prepare for fireworks
What's exciting for us for summertime celebrations can be terrifying for your pets — but fireworks are often unavoidable. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests making holidays happier for pets by playing music for them in an interior room with no windows or checking with the vet to see if some calming medication is appropriate.
roll up car windows
It feels good to drive with the wind blowing your hair — but reconsider letting your dog stick his nose out the window. It might seem cute — but they can not only fall out but, be hit by foreign objects like leaves, insects, or rocks. They can also fall hard within the car if you stop short. Secure them with a "doggy seat belt" or in a pet carrier for optimum safety.
get pets out of the car
Everyone knows not to keep pets in the car on a hot day — but even a 70-degree day is too hot for your pet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise almost 30 degrees in 20 minutes. After an hour, the temperature in the car will be more than 40 degrees higher than outside temperatures. Either take your pet with you, or leave him at home.
avoid hot surfaces
Know how it feels to hit the hot sand barefoot? Well, your pets experience that on sand, sidewalks and more. Consider booties if your pet will wear them, limit walks to grass instead of sand or sidewalks, or purchase paw wax, which can help protect and heal paws.
reconsider pet trips
Many people insist on taking their pets with them to events ranging from street fairs to flea markets and outdoor concerts. While you might enjoy having a companion, your pet is encountering strangers, confusing new places and smells, other animals, and more. Remember, even the tamest dog, parrot, or snake may frighten people not used to animals, especially children.
prepare for power outages
If you live in an area prone to power outages from summer storms, make sure to keep an eye on your aquarium and its filter, lights, and more. Have a backup plan in place to make sure your fish aren't endangered.
With summer being a common time for travel and frequent outings, make sure all the family's pets are considered. Leave sufficient food for the day, and consider having someone check in on them. Also, don't let kids get caught up in summer fun and forget about their turtle or hamster.
check out sitters
When heading out of town, be sure you have checked the references of anyone who will be caring for your pet in your absence. Make sure any pet sitters are reliable and safe, and if using a boarding facility check for a clean record and positive reviews from references. But even highly recommended sitters and kennels may not be right for your pet, so make sure any you use have a style that will mesh with your pet's temperament.
pick the right trip
If you plan to vacation with your pet, make sure the destination is welcoming to pets. Don't assume you can pick up food or medication on the go (bring it with you) and investigate amenities, such as walking facilities, before arriving. Also, remember that even the best-behaved dog can be overwhelmed by a change of routine and place.
keep birds safe
Birds may be as excited about warm weather and clear skies as you are. Be sure cage doors are secure, and if your bird has a history of escaping, have her wings clipped. Move your bird's cage to a safe, separate room if a strange pet will be visiting. If you're gardening, cleaning the pool, or touching other dangerous substances, remember that birds can absorb chemicals through their feet, so always wash your hands.
Summertime grooming is important, as it can help in looking for fleas and ticks, removing foxtails or brambles, and expose any bites or scratches. However, don't shave your dog down to the skin. A dog's coat is designed to keep him cool, and extreme shaving can expose him to sunburn.
be aware of wild animals
If you often note a random raccoon has been rummaging through the garbage can or your town's had some coyote sightings, be vigilant about your pet's safety when outdoors, especially at night. A dangerous encounter could lead to injuries — or a rabies scare.
look for changes
Be attentive to any potential changes in your pet during the summer months. Your dog might take a swim in the lake and come down with an ear infection, for example, or a bee might sting her when you're not watching. Pay extra attention to any behavioral changes, and take immediate action if you see something.
It's smart to be safe — but remember to have fun with your pet, too. Pets can sense that you care about them, and playtime can be a critical part of keeping them healthy and happy. So go ahead, enjoy summer and have a great time with your furry, feathered, or scaled friend.