It’s summertime and the living is easy—except for the sunburn, allergies and noise.
When the sun is high and days grow long, pets can be at risk, too. The following are a few ways to make sure it’s a healthy and safe summer for all.
Sunburn: Animals feel the heat just like humans and need protection from the sun. Don’t let the fur fool you. Dogs can get sunburned and, just like with humans, the skin cancer rate is on the rise.
Be sure to apply a pet-safe sunscreen to protect them. If you don’t have a pet-safe product, you can use one that is child-safe with an SPF of 30 to 50. Be sure to apply to the most sensitive areas like the nose, ears and belly. Just like with kids, reapply if they go swimming.
Pets with light skin and a short or thin coat are prone to sunburn or skin cancer, so limit your dog’s exposure to UV rays from noon to 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.
Sunstroke/heat exhaustion: Never leave pets alone in a hot car. Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles.
Temps inside your car can rise as much as 20 degrees in 10 minutes and go 40 degrees higher than outside in an hour.
It doesn’t matter if it is in the shade. Your car absorbs the heat from the asphalt into your tires and up, and from the sun directly into the metal. If you can’t take the pet in with you, leave it at home.
Dehydration: Dogs and cats can dehydrate, so limit time outdoors when the temperatures rise.
If you can’t keep a dog or cat inside (though cats should always be inside so they don’t fall prey to predators) try freezing a stainless steel pet bowl filled with water. The water will melt slowly as it provides a cool drink
Burns: If the asphalt is too hot for you to walk on, then it is too hot for your dog. Take dogs for walks early in the morning or late in the day.
Keep pets away from the grill. That meat smells good to them, so they may come too close and risk being burned.
Vegetation: Foxtail plants aren’t just irritating they are painful. The barbed heads of the foxtail can work their way into the nose, between the toes and inside the ears, eyes and mouth.
The foxtail plant is a grass-like weed common in Southern California. Because it doesn’t break down inside the body, an embedded foxtail can lead to infection and can even cause death if left untreated.
Foxtails can be hard to find in your pet’s fur and can migrate into the skin because of their barbs.
If your pet is limping, licking a specific area, shaking its head, squinting or sneezing repeatedly, or if you see swelling, and abscess or discharge, seek veterinary care immediately.
Grass and plants can be home to ticks, fleas and bees. But treating the yard with pesticides can be hazardous to your pet. Keep them safe by checking for pests and reserving a fertilizer-free, pesticide-free shaded area in your yard for them. Trim back bushes and grasses that can hide predators.
Allergies: Yes, pets can have allergies. They get the same runny nose and sneezing reaction to pollen we get.
Excessive scratching might be a skin irritation from grass, tree pollen or weeds. You’ll see them biting the pads of their feet, kicking at their ears and scooting. Some pets bite or scratch their bellies.
There are remedies available. Take your pet to the vet. Don’t rely on the internet. People:
Remind guests and kids to close doors. Many dogs and cats go missing or are hit by vehicles because someone accidently left the door open to run out to the pool or play in the street with friends.
the shouts of children can frighten pets. Make sure they are microchipped and they have a collar with a tag. More pets go missing on July 4 than any other date.
Brush your pets often. This will remove the excess fur they shed in summer and help keep them cool.
Keep a pet first-aid kit handy to deal with cuts and insect bites.
Pet CPR is very different from human CPR, and the Red Cross offers courses that teach CPR to pet guardians.
Yvette Berke is a local animal advocate with more than 30 years of experience in rescue, care and adoption. Email her at [email protected].