Dear Dr. Kerr,
Summer is here and I love to be outdoors with my pets, are there any precautions I should take while outdoors.
I am so glad you love to take your pets outside. I am sure they love it too. There is nothing like playing in the sun (or a light rain), walking in the woods, swimming in the ponds, streams and lakes of Ontario. A little preparation and planning can make for a safe fun summer you and your pets.
Fresh air is great for dogs and cats alike. It is important though to keep them close to home to prevent trauma from other animals, cars etc. Leashes can be used with both dogs and cats although cats tend not to tolerate them as well. A closed in safe area for cats is the best way to allow them to experience fresh air without risk of injury. Dogs and even cats can make use of the Invisible Fence or Dog Watch products to keep them within the boundaries of the property and prevent them from straying..
While outside it is important to ensure pets have adequate opportunity to cool off on those “Dog Days” of summer. Adequate shade, lots of drinking water and even a small plastic kiddie pool can provide refreshment and fun. Heat stroke is a real and sometimes fatal problem during the summer months especially with dogs. Never leave a dog alone in the car on a hot summer day, and dogs with thick coats – Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Huskies – should not be encouraged to run or play on hot days since it is hard for them to cool off. Overheating can lead to health problems. For those dogs and cats with little to no fur, sunburn is also a worry as are sore feet from walking on hot sidewalks.
During the summer bugs are everywhere. Flies, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks all can be more than annoyances to some pets. All of these can carry diseases lie West Nile virus, Heartworm disease, hemobartonella and Lyme disease.
Please don’t let me discourage you from going outside with your pets. Summer fun is a great way to get rid of your pet’s ‘winter cobwebs’, some of that winter weight and outside play helps to strengthen the bond you have with them. A few precautions and some common sense will allow you and your pets to enjoy the wonderful, warm, hopefully not too wet, summer months ahead.
Dr. Dave Kerr