Protecting Your Pets in the Summer

Did you know that your furry friends are also at risk of getting sunburned this summer? On Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show, we talked to Dr. Adolfo Games, the medical director at VCA Southeast Area Animal Hospital, to discuss how we can protect our pets from the sun and heat this summer. 

Summer can be a great time to bond with your pet. But higher temperatures also mean higher risks for our furry companions – more injuries, more skin and ear infections, and a possibility of a heat stroke. Dr. Games discusses the important ways to keep our furry friends healthy and happy this summer.

7 Ways to Protect Your Pets This Summer

  • Have plenty of water and shade for your pet 
  • Apply sunscreen when needed
  • Don’t shave your pet
  • Never leave your pet in the car – it can take less than 10 minutes for your pet to develop heat stroke, and having the windows down doesn’t make a difference.
  •  Keep in mind your walking hours – do early morning or late evening walks, take breaks and have water prepared, keep your dog’s paws cool. 
  • If you’re out in the sun together, try to keep your pet off of hot surfaces like cement and asphalt
  • Try to keep the bugs away, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites away

Signs of Overheating

Pets do not sweat in the same way humans do and can easily become overheated. According to the ASPCA, young, overweight or elderly animals, or those with short muzzles or those with thick or dark-colored coats are most at risk for overheating. Signs of overheating include heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea and/or wobbly legs. Though shaving your pet may sound like a great idea, your pet’s hair actually helps prevent them from getting sunburned!

Dr. Games adds that you can discuss with your groomer and talk about strategically shaving your pet on their stomachs to keep them cool. Areas to watch for sunburn include the ears, nose, and stomach. If you have a pet with white hair, you should consider buying affordable pet sunscreen that is also available on Amazon. Pet parents can consider using baby sunscreen but should be sure to avoid any sunscreen that has zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (also known as PABA) as ingredients. These ingredients can be toxic if ingested. 

Other Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe

Be cautious of yards and landscaping areas that you don’t know. Some yard treatments and fertilizers have chemicals that are toxic to dogs. Local irritation, upset stomach, diarrhea, and wobbling are some symptoms to be aware of. Also, Dr. Games mentions that restraining your dog while in the car is becoming increasingly important. He tells us it is something for all pet owners to think about.

Check out this fun “pupsicle” recipe to keep your dog cool all summer long! Click here to watch the full Health Happens episode.

This post was written by 9Health Fair intern Kylie Fogo.

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