Thursday, July 21, 2011

Animal Friends Urges Pet Owners to Keep Pets Safe During the Heatwave

The dog days of summer have arrived! Play it cool by following some basic summer pet safety tips so your four-legged companions can enjoy those hot, lazy days along with you:

* NEVER leave your pet in a parked car! Even with the windows slightly open, temperatures can quickly reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to the animal suffering severe heat stroke or even death. Your pet is much safer staying at home on warm days. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, call a humane officer or the police.

* Pets drink more water as the temperature rises, so be sure to always provide plenty of cool, clean water for your pet to drink. Check water dishes frequently and place them out of the rays of the sun. Affix the container in such a way that the water cannot be spilled.

* Outdoor animals must have shelter from summer sun and rain. A doghouse should be placed in an area of the yard that is shaded by trees or other buildings. Pennsylvania law requires the doghouse to be four-sided, with a good roof and floor. Steel barrels and metal doghouses are illegal shelters. Keep the area around the doghouse clean and sanitary. You should remove feces daily during the summer to reduce odor and flies.

* Heat stress and heat stroke pose serious summer threats to pets, especially very young, elderly or overweight animals. When the outside temperature is high, especially if it is humid, an animal can have problems maintaining his normal body temperature. Signs of severe heat stress include heavy panting, increased heart rate, glassy eyes, staggering walk, vomiting and diarrhea. You must cool an overheated pet immediately. Move the pet out of the sun and immerse him in cool water. Apply ice packs to the head, neck and chest and provide cool water for the pet to drink. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

* Many lawn care products can be toxic if ingested. Restrict your pets from treated areas and keep an eye out for chemically treated lawns when you and your dog are out for walks.

* Fleas are often a serious problem in the warm weather, especially for outside animals. Some animals are allergic to flea saliva, resulting in hair loss and scratching until their skin is raw. Flea bites can also cause anemia in young or sick pets. Fleas can be treated by sprays or with products available from veterinarians.

All pets should be spayed or neutered, especially if they live outside. Each year, thousands of pets are euthanized because there are not enough homes for all of them. Call Animal Friends’ Low-Cost Spay/Neuter office at 1.800.SPAYPGH for information about low-cost spay/neuter services.

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