Thursday, June 10, 2010

Have Some Fun in the Sun

As we are now reaching the end of spring, hot summer air is on its way.  While we may be enjoying time off, going on vacations, and catching some rays by the pool, our best friends may be miserable with their winter coats.  Not only that, but summer brings bugs, parties, fireworks, and food.  Follow these simple guidelines to keep your pet happy and healthy all summer long.

1) Water, Water, Water!  Always leave water out for your dog, no matter how long you plan on being gone.  If your dog tends to drink water too fast, feel free to fill a bowl with ice instead.  Ice will keep your dog hydrated without allowing him to drink to the point of getting sick.

2) Provide Shelter. Ideally your dog will be indoors and in air-conditioning during the heat of the day.  That's the best way to keep her cool.  Either way, though, she should have some shade to seek some relief under.

3) Check your lawn products. As we fertilize and till, many of us put down products that may not be so great for our furry friends.  After walking on the lawn, these fertilizers cling to our pets' feet, and if they lick their paws they end up ingesting these products.  Of course, this can be quite dangerous for your dog or cat.  Other products such as certain kinds of mulch and bug repellents can be just as dangerous.  Try to choose pet-friendly products for your yard, and if necessary keep your pooch on the porch for a few days.

4) Protect against fleas, ticks, and other bugs.  Yes, warm weather brings about the creepy-crawlies.  Find a product that is safe for your pet and treat him every month.  Personally, I use Frontline for fleas and ticks, and Heartguard to protect against heartworms, but those aren't the best choices for everyone or every dog.  Search around and find what's best for you.  Avoid bug repellents made for people (such as OFF!).  These are NOT safe for your pet. Note: Protecting against bugs and heartworms should actually be a year-long practice, not just for the summer.

5) Practice fire safety.  Keep your pet away from tiki torches, citronella candles, and fireworks.  Needless to say, ingesting these items is probably not a great idea.  Oh, and when you light those fireworks, try to keep your pet inside.  Many pets get lost after running away from the sound of the fireworks.  Avoid that stress, and keep your pet safe.

6) Learn to swim.  While we may love a good romp in the pool, it's often harder for our dogs to swim.  While I am by no means saying your dog shouldn't get in the water, I am saying to be safe about it.  Always supervise your dog when in the pool, and consider putting on a life vest if needed (especially in rougher waters like the beach or river).  Our trips to the river always include a life vest as a just in case.

7) Avoid a feeding frenzy.  With so many parties during the summer, a lot of dogs (and cats) are fed random scraps of food from the various guests.  Not only can this cause stomach upset, but it can also lead to an inadvertent poisoning.  Make sure to keep your pet away from harmful foods such as grapes and raisins, onions, and avocados.

8) Be aware of others.  Having so many people (and dogs) in one location can be a somewhat stressful situation for your pet.  An agitated or stressed dog can quickly become an aggressive dog.  Or an overly-excited dog can cause unintentional injury to guests (especially small children).  Be aware of how your pet reacts to all the new sights and sounds.  Does she seem stressed or anxious?  What about over-excited and uncontrollable?  In these situations, it may be best to put your pet up or keep her on leash.

Following these simple rules can easily lead to a fun, safe summer.  There is one, last rule, though.  HAVE FUN! 

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