Pets are more than our best friends, they’re family, too. Just like our human family members, they require protection from summer heat, sunburn, harmful foods, toxins and seasonal dangers. Find out what protective measures you can easily put in place with these five pet summer safety tips.
5 tips for pet safety in summer
The rules for keeping pets safe in summer aren’t quite the same as for humans. For example, you or I could happily enjoy a summer platter of cheese and grapes. However, just one grape could spell disaster for a canine companion.
Since we’re on the topic of food, let’s start with summer foods that pets shouldn’t eat.
#1 Summer food dangers for pets
Many of us know that chocolate isn’t good for dogs. That’s because it contains theobromine, something that pets can’t metabolise. But a lesser-known dog toxin that’s plentiful in some chocolate, peanut butter and other summer goodies is the sugar substitute xylitol.
Whereas sugar-free has a healthy ring for humans, xylitol toxicity in dogs can be fatal (and, possibly, cats too; research is inconclusive). Why? Their bodies don’t realise they’re dealing with a sugar substitute, rather than the real thing, causing them to produce insulin, which can lead to life-threatening low blood sugar.
Other Christmas foods to keep away for summer pet safety include:
- Sauces and gravy (these usually contain the above)
- Cooked bones/most raw bones (no turkey bones whether cooked or raw)
- Stone fruit like cherries, plums and peaches
- Corn cobs
- Nuts: some are too fatty, while others like macadamia nuts are toxic to pets
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. If you’re feeling unsure of putting something in your pet’s Christmas dinner, it’s best to do a quick online search before letting them tuck in.
#2 Trim rather than shave
Pets come equipped with a fur coat year-round. While that’s great in the cooler winter months, it might be a hard load to bear in the high summer heat. And you might be tempted to help relieve them by shaving off their fur coat. However, this will not provide your pet with summer safety, and it could also be harmful to them.
A pet’s fur coat regulates their metabolism and protects their skin from sun damage. Shaving their fur can also aggravate the skin and cause erratic regrowth and increased shedding. If you’re simply shaving your dog to avoid shedding, consider a dog with hair rather than fur, like a poodle for example.
Read more in this article: Can I Shave My Dog?
#3 Beat the heat
As pets don’t perspire like humans, and mainly sweat through their paw pads and noses, it’s harder for them to regulate their temperatures. But, happily, there are other avenues to help them beat the heat.
A pet cooling mat, for example, can help them chill. And make sure they have ample fresh drinking water, adding a few ice cubes to keep it cool.
Because of the way pets sweat, fans are less effective at keeping them cool. Instead, wash your pet down with water to help them fend off the heat.
#4 No pets in parked cars
Pets can suffer from heatstroke, brain damage and death very quickly if you leave them in a hot parked car. On a hot day, a car’s internal temperature can rise to more than 10 degrees higher than the ambient temperature outside. And if a pet is locked inside, its temperature can rise to dangerous levels.
Brachycephalic dogs like pugs and French bulldogs have flatter snouts and heat up even faster. They’re also prone to respiratory problems and can suffer from heatstroke more quickly than other breeds.
But regardless of your breed of dog or cat, never leave it unattended in a car during the warmer months.
#5 Say no to sunburn
Yes, pets have shaggy, hairy and furry coats, but sunburn can still be a problem. The best way to provide your pawsome pet with summer sunburn safety is to ensure it avoids the worst of the sun’s UV rays. Stick to walks and outings in the mornings and late afternoons instead. Also be sure to have a good pet sun cream barrier close at hand, in case you get caught out.
Pets can get sunstroke just like people do, and once the damage is done it’s a hop, skip and a jump from sunshine to seeing the vet. Sunstroke symptoms can range from mild peeling to fever and dehydration. And severe sunburn can also contribute to some cancers, as is the case with humans.
The most sunburn prone places on a pet are its nose, ears and eyelids, where there’s less fur. But pets with lighter, shorter or no fur are at an especially higher risk of sunburn.
When it comes to summer sunburn, prevention is always the best policy. However, no matter how good a pet parent you are, sometimes pets get ill or hurt. That’s why one of the best summer-through-to-winter safeguards you can have is pet insurance to help pay for pet healthcare costs.
About the reviewer of this page
This report was reviewed by Canstar’s Editor, Bruce Pitchers. Bruce began his career writing about pop culture, and spent a decade in sports journalism. More recently, he’s applied his editing and writing skills to the world of finance and property. Prior to Canstar, he worked as a freelancer, including for The Australian Financial Review, the NZ Financial Markets Authority, and for real estate companies on both sides of the Tasman.
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