Plan ahead and take a quick glance at some common health concerns:
- Fleas & Ticks: Make sure to prevent dogs and cats from flea- and tick-transmitted diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever by using a topical oil. Check with your veterinarian before purchasing, as some products are safe for either a dog or a cat, but not both, and may be toxic if not administered properly. Check out these healthypet.com pages on fleas and ticks.
- Heat Exhaustion/Dehydration: Shorter walks and shady spots in the backyard are crucial as temperatures rise. When the family takes a trip to the ice cream stand, bring back sugar-free vanilla for Fido to help keep him cool, or fill his water bowl with ice cubes. Watch out for scalding-hot blacktop and sand, too—cat and dog paws are sensitive and they're always barefoot.
And be sure to keep in mind the dangers of leaving your pets in the car. According to the Humane Society, even on slightly warmer days "the temperature in your car can rise to 120° in a matter of minutes, even with the windows opened slightly. Furthermore, an animal left alone in a car is an invitation to pet thieves." This is especially important to keep in mind when bringing Fido or Felix on a road trip.
- Fertilizers: Some pesticides used to make that backyard look beautiful for your family can be lethal to your family pet. For instance, cocoa mulch contains an ingredient called Theobromine (a natural compound found in chocolate) that is lethally toxic to dogs and cats. Here's a list of poisonous plants and lawn & garden products compiled by vets affiliated with the ASPCA animal poison control center
- Heartworm: Heartworm medication is just as important for "city mice" as it is for "country mice" since it can be transmitted by mosquitoes. Use peanut butter, cheese or meatballs to "make the medicine go down" if they don’t like swallowing a pill.
- Grooming. Vets warn against the "summer haircut"! While our first instinct might be to get a shorter 'do for the warmer months, dogs don't sweat through their skin like humans do (they sweat through their nose, tongue, and pads of their feet) so a haircut won't help. Unless your dog is prone to heat spots, specific to breeds like Golden Retrievers, then a haircut won't help, unless you are strapped for time and can't maintain regular brushing.
- Family picnics and summer fun. Leave Fido at home when you take the family to outdoor events and festivals! While dogs love a hike, walk in the woods, or romp on the beach with their favorite companions, they will be absolutely traumatized by fireworks, parades, and other noisy, crowd-filled events.