Summer is one of the most enjoyable seasons to spend with your pet, but seasonal changes in your pet’s routine and environment can necessitate a little extra TLC. To keep pets happy and healthy this summer season, follow these ten tips from the American Heartworm Society. (Photo Credit: Blake Handley/Flickr )
1. Step up your pet’s exercise program. If you live in an area with cold winters and wet springs, chances are you’ve already been clipping on your dog’s leash and enjoying the great outdoors. It’s a perfect time to explore new walking or jogging routes in your neighborhood, using apps like MapMyDogWalk that let you track everything from pace and calories to locations for dog parks and water fountains.
2. Let in the outdoors. An open window can provide hours of entertainment for your indoor cat. Pick a tree-shaded window and let the birds outside safely stimulate your cat’s inner predator.
3. Beat the heat. If you’re uncomfortable in the heat and humidity, your pet probably is, too. Unlike you, cats and dogs pant rather than sweat, so they can’t cool off quickly. Save games of fetch and laser tag for morning and evening on sweltering days, and also avoid exercise after your pet has eaten.
4. Don’t miss check-ups. Just like you, pets need regular check-ups with their doctor. Make sure your dog or cat gets a yearly veterinary exam that includes updated immunizations and parasite checks. Dogs should also have an annual heartworm test.
5. Stay on schedule. Year-round heartworm prevention is essential and monthly preventives for heartworm and intestinal parasites should be given on the same date every month. If your pets are joining you on vacation, don’t forget their medication. The same is true if your dog or cat is spending the vacation in a boarding facility at home.
6. Keep them clean. Good grooming is especially important in the summer. Pets love to roll in the dirt and grass and can pick up nasty parasites like fleas and ticks while enjoying the great outdoors. External parasite prevention is a must, while dogs may require more frequent bathing.
7. Hold the clippers. Your long-haired dog or cat may look hot to you, but their coats are protective. Trimming long hair on the legs, paws and hindquarters of a long-haired dog is usually fine, but shaving long hair can damage your pet’s coat and put him or her at risk for sunburn. Instead, brush both dogs and cats frequently—it will eliminate matted hair and help keep them cool.
8. Hydrate, hydrate. Just like us, pets can easily become dehydrated in hot weather. Make sure both indoor and outdoor pets have access to fresh water at all times. If your dog is your hiking buddy, double up on the bottled water in your backpack and bring a portable bowl. Also bring fresh water if you’re beach walking, as excessive salt water intake is dangerous.
9. Poison patrol. Along with the wonders of nature, the great outdoors offers its share of environmental hazards. Everything from garden plants to pesticides to fertilizer can put your pets at risk. The Pet Poison Helpline offers comprehensive information on a wide variety of summer toxins.
10. Sidewalk socialization. Socializing with other dogs does not come naturally, especially to adult dogs. Rather than letting your dog “greet” others, keep him by your side as others dog pass—then reward his calm behavior with a treat.
Keep your pets cool, clean and healthy so they can make the most of the long days of summer.
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