Families love to spend long summer days around refreshing water, and family pets love it too. But before you head out to the pool, beach, or lake, read these few tips to keep your pets safe and healthy.
Watch for Sun Problems
Few pet owners realize how susceptible their pets are to sunburns. But just like humans, too much sun exposure is bad for the skin of dogs and cats. Your pet's natural coat often provides protection as well as air circulation, so avoid the temptation to automatically cut it all off during the hot months.
If they are going to be in the sun for a long period, purchase a pet sunblock and reapply just like you would your own sunblock. Provide plenty of shade to give everyone a break.
In addition to sunburns, watch for heat problems. Pets show heat exhaustion in different ways than humans, so be on the lookout for panting, lots of drool, vomiting, signs of weakness, and dry gums. If you suspect heat problems, get your pet into a shaded, cool area with lots of water to drink and cool them off somewhat slowly.
Use Life Vests
Will your dog be playing on boats, around pools, or near the lake or ocean? Then they may need a life jacket just like your kids do. Never assume that your dog will be comfortable in the water or that they won't wander into dangerous waves — even if they're considered a water dog. Each dog and cat is different, and you should practice around smaller sources of water long before heading to the beach without protection.
Doggy life jackets are perfect for small dogs, puppies, and those who aren't great swimmers. They also help even good swimmers to be easily seen by other people in the lake and by passing boats. If your dog isn't used to a life vest yet, practice in the backyard or in a small kiddie pool.
Teach Pool Safety
If you have a backyard pool or enjoy pet-friendly pool parties, practice good pool safety with your dog and cat first. Show them how to use the stairs in the pool by practicing entering and exiting many times. Make sure they can swim well enough to get to the stairs, and get help from a trainer if they cannot.
You may also want to add an animal-friendly pool ramp in the opposite end of the pool in case of emergency. These safety features that float along the water's edge can save not only your pets but also wildlife that wander into your pool.
Be Careful Around Open Water
If you and your dog or cat are used to being around water, it's easy to become complacent about it. But beach currents and riptides are dangerous. Keep your pet with you at all times and prevent them from wandering into the deeper waves. If you're going to the lake, avoid areas with heavy, stagnant algae. And protect their feet from sharp corals, rocks, and sticks under the surface.
Avoid Food Scraps
Those soulful, begging eyes can be hard to resist during summer barbecues and outings. But try to resist the urge to give your pets various food scraps, and avoid leaving plates, bowls, and cups where they can easily get to them. Human food scraps can be dangerous to many breeds, even though you may think little of it.
Chicken wings, corn on the cob, and meat bones may cause choking, intestinal blockage, or even esophageal punctures. Excess sodium, plants in the onion or shallot family, and grapes are all common barbecue foods that can contain toxic substances for dogs. Ask your veterinarian about other summer cookout foods that you should avoid giving to nearby pets.
If you have any concerns about how to keep Fido and Fluffy safe during this summer, talk with an experienced veterinarian about your questions. At Alta Vista Veterinary Clinic, we want to keep your pets healthy and their owners happy. Schedule an appointment today for a pet-friendly summer.