Veterinarians are warning Florida pet owners to take extra precautions in the oppressive heat we are experiencing. Southwest Floridians have been under several heat advisories and the summer isn’t near over.. Keeping cool might be instinctive for you. But don’t forget the animals. Here are five tips to keep your pet safe in the dangerous summer heat.

Pet-sitting company TrustedHousesitters worked with veterinarians to create a checklist to help. It’s not just in regards to the heat. In addition, vets say summer brings seasonal spikes in illnesses, pesticides, toxic plants, insects, lost pets, and more.

Dog sitting in the grass

Keep you animals safe in the summer heat. It’s more than just hydration. Beware of insects, new wasps nests and bees too.

Tips To Keep Your Pet Safe

Before we get to the list, here are a few house keeping chores. First, brush your pet and free it from any excessive hair. Cats too. This might seem like a no-brainer, however, it is worth a reminder.

You might think a trip to the beach, river or lake offers your dog a great way to cool down in the heat. But if your dog isn’t used to the water, use caution. Some swimming spots can be risky if your pet becomes tired or overestimates its ability. Consider investing in a dog life vest. They are worn like a harness and have grab handles. In addition, there are reflective strips.

Finally, keeping pets hydrated is an absolute must. Besides water, veterinarian Dr Lily Richards has a few ideas. “Consider cooling mats and additional fans for cats and dogs.” She adds, “Don’t forget our small furries, rabbits and guinea pigs, who can be kept cool with a bottle of iced water to lay down next to.”

Recent reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration anticipate Florida reaching above-average temperatures from June to August. We are right in the middle of it. Take care of yourselves as well as your animal friends this summer.

Here is a checklist, five tips to keep your pet safe in the dangerous summer heat.

  • Know the signs of a heat stroke

    These are signs of heat stroke in pets according to the American Red Cross

    • Heavy panting or difficulty breathing, even when lying down
    • Brick red gum color in dogs; deep red or purple tongue in cats
    • Fast pulse rate or rapid heartbeat
    • Weakness and inability to get up
    • Excessive grooming in cats
    • Dizziness, lack of coordination
    • Vomiting or excessive salivation

    Suspect your pet is experiencing a heat stroke? Use a water hose to cool it down then get to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Beware of these garden plants

    According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, 429 plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Here are a few more common summer plants to keep your pet away from:

    • Elephant’s Ear
    • Hydrangea
    • Tulips
    • Lilies
    • Daffodils
    • Azalea
    • Aloe Vera
    • Amaryllis
    • Baby’s Breath

  • Don't forget the sunscreen

    You are not the only one who needs it.  Pets get sunburned too. Pets with white fur and those that don’t have a lot of or any fur are particularly vulnerable. If you plan to be outside for awhile, consider using a pet-friendly sunscreens. Don’t use the human kind. Some of the ingredients in these could be toxic to pets if ingested.

  • Re-evaluate walking route

    Remember pets are much lower to the ground. Their bodies more easily absorb the heat from asphalt and other hot surfaces. And then there is the fur. All of this can increase heart rates and the risk of overheating. In addition, walk your pet on a shaded route to prevent paw burning. Consider shorter walks and staying close to home. Don’t forget to bring some water for them as well as yourself.

  • Parasite Prevention

    The summer season is also flea and tick season. It could be troublesome if you’re exploring the countryside where pets can pick up fleas, ticks, mites or lice. Ticks carry Lyme disease. Regularly check your pet for signs of fleas and ticks. Also, check with your vet about preventative treatments for fleas, ticks, and other harmful pests.

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