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Norwich Bulletin - 8/1/2010

Be Cautious When It’s Hot

Summer is a time for you and your pets to enjoy the sunshine and experience the out of doors, but along with the fun, the sun can cause situations dangerous and even lethal to your cat or dog. By learning what not to do, you can take away some of that danger.

If you are traveling with your pet in the summer, you need to be aware of what can happen in a very short time. For instance, if you leave your animal in the car while you run to do a “quick” errand, you may come back to a disaster. The inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you're parked in the shade. Dogs and cats can't perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet.

Pets who are left in hot cars even briefly can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and can even die. Thinking that your pet will be fine if you leave it water,is not true. When I travel to cat shows during the summer, it is always with my husband or a friend. Whenever we stop for a break, one of us stays in the car with the air conditioning running and then we trade placed. The cats are never left alone in a hot vehicle.

If you cannot travel in a pair, then you need to leave your pet at home while you're on the road. And if you do happen to see a pet in a car alone during the hot summer months, alert the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately. You just might save a life.

Putting your dog in the back of your pickup truck is also not a smart idea. It is very dangerous, and in some states illegal (I think it is illegal in Connecticut),. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, or is hit by another car. Your dog should ride up front with you where he will be safe. And it is also a good idea to use a seat belt for your pooch.

Summer is often a time when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. They use plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides that can be fatal if your pet ingests them. And there are over 700 types of plants that can produce toxic substances in sufficient amounts to cause harmful effects in animals so before you plant those beautiful flowers, check what it will or will not do if an animal takes a bite. And many animals will do just that, especially a cat.

With people and dogs spending more time outside, you need to be more careful when walking or running with your canine companion. The last thing you want is for your dog to bite someone or run into the road. You should always keep your dog on a leash unless you are in a bonafide dog park where it is allowed to let your dog run in certain fenced in areas.

However, if your dog is aggressive to other dogs, it is not fair to your dog or the other people to let him run loose at any time. And make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tag so if you are separated you have a better change of reunification.

Watch your breeds. Bulldogs, pugs and other dogs with a “pushed in” face, can overheat and not be able to breath much faster than other breeds. You should not let these dogs be over active when the weather is hot and humid.

You have fleas, ticks and heartworm to be worried about if your animlas are going to spend anytime outside in the summer months. It is important that you use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter flea and tick medications can be toxic to your animal, even when used according to instructions.

If you have a pool, make sure you pets are supervised. Animals are really not that smart and while you may think your dog or cat will find the steps if they fall in, that is not always the case. If your dog or cat spends the majority of time out of doors, make sure you provide plenty of water and shade so they can stay cool.

If you are out and about and see an animal in a car in a parking lot, speak with a store manager. They can be very helpful in locating the owner or calling animal control. They do not want a tragedy happening in their parking lot. And don’t be afraid to call your local animal control or the police for assistance if you need to.

And if you want your dog to spend time with you on your outings or errands than you need to prepare so there is no chance of tragedy. I you end up having to run a quick errand or two on the way to the dog park or lake, then park in the shade, leash your dog and have a family member stay with the car and the dog, outside of the car. If you are alone, then you need to have some other ideas.

Perhaps you could use the drive-up. Many fast food restaurants, banks, and pharmacies have this option. You can always shop in pet friendly stores. Pet stores typically allow pets, and they do carry "human" items like candy and snacks if you are in a hurry.

Be smart in your decisions when it comes to summer outings and pets. You would never forgive yourself if you were responsible for the death of your pet because of something that could easily have been avoided.

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