Keeping your pets safe and sound when the warm weather hits

As we head into warmer weather, the Whatcom Humane Society (WHS) is encouraging pet owners to take precautions to protect their companion animals from the summer dangers.

When traveling by car this summer, you may want to take your pet with you. Be aware, the inside of your car can reach 120° in a matter of minutes, even if you’re parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for your companion animals left in the car. Dogs and cats can’t perspire and only dispel heat through the pads of their feet  or by panting. Pets who are left in hot cars even briefly can suffer heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and die. If you see an animal in a vehicle that needs assistance, please contact WHS or your local animal control agency immediately.

Pets and pools can equal disaster. Prevent free access to pools and always supervise a pet in a pool. Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so they can stay cool.

If you plan on traveling with your pet during warm weather months, take the time to prepare for your furry friends in advance. Many airlines have summer pet embargoes, and most trains and ships will only allow service animals.

When traveling, make sure you animals is wearing current identification.

Remember that pets need exercise even when it is hot, but extra care needs to be taken with older dogs, short-nosed dogs and those with thick coats. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws.

Another warm weather threat are fleas and ticks. Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to manufacturers’ instructions.

Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require pet friendly/safe sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.

Don’t take your pets to crowded summer events such as concerts or fairs. The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets.

Be aware of the signs of heat stress, which may include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, and/or a deep red or purple tongue. If your pet does become overheated, you need to immediately lower his body temperature. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water over his body to gradually lower his core body temperature. Apply cold towels or ice packs to your pet’s head, neck, and chest only. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Most importantly, get him or her to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you see an animal in distress, WHS urges you to contact your local animal control and rescue department for assistance. Whatcom Humane Society Animal Control can be reached at 360/733-2080, ext. 3017.

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