Summer is a particularly wonderful time of year for you and your dog, Chukar. Since Chukar goes with you pretty much everywhere, you have historically enjoyed summers of baseball games, hikes, and picnics. One particular summer day, you wake up to a blue sky, plump white clouds, and bright sunshine.
“It seems like a wonderful day for a picnic,” you tell Chukar. “What do you think, Sister City Park?” Chukar’s wagging tail affirms that a picnic at Sister City Park is a great idea.
“Then let’s get ready.”
As you pack your bag and picnic basket, you think out loud, verbalizing the seven things you need to remember, to keep Chukar cool and safe.
#1: Don’t muzzle pets in hot weather
“The weather person says today will be hot, so I’m going to pack extra water for you, Chukar, and your water bowl. Also, I know you tend not to like other dogs, but instead of your muzzle, I’ll keep you on your leash today, because you can’t pant when you are muzzled, and panting is your main method for cooling off.”
Chukar immediately starts to pant.
“We aren’t outside yet, and you are already feeling hot.” Thank goodness you were groomed a few days ago, and we got all that extra fur off, which will help keep you cool when it’s hot, like today.”
#2: Use prevention against parasites
“We also remembered to give your monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventives this month. They are essential when we are outdoors. I’d much rather prevent parasites than have you suffer from the terrible diseases, such as Lyme disease and heartworm disease, that they can cause, and have to treat you later, which I know can be long-term and difficult. I will admit, however, that I have to make an effort never to miss a dose, but it’s worth it, because missing only one monthly dose means you are not consistently protected.”
#3: Pets get sunburned, too
“Next, we’ll put on your special pet-safe sunscreen. We don’t want those thinly furred areas around your muzzle, ears, armpits, inguinal area, and belly to get burned! Let’s help ensure neither of us get skin cancer.
“Now we need to pack our food. You can’t have a picnic without good food.”
Chukar’s ears perk up at the word “food.” You go to the refrigerator, and see it’s almost empty.
“This is what happens when you procrastinate on grocery shopping, Chukar. I’ll have to go to the store.”
Chukar wags her tail, thinking she can go on the car ride.
#4: Never leave pets in an unattended car
“Unfortunately, it’s not safe to leave you in the car while I go into the store, because the car temperature can increase 20 degrees in the first 10 minutes of being parked in a parking lot during the summer months. I know you want to come with me, but the last thing I would do is leave you in a car on such a hot day—dogs die that way. I promise I’ll be back soon.”
You are back in only a few minutes. You load the picnic basket, blankets, and other supplies, including a first-aid kit, buckle Chukar in the dog-seat belt, and head to the park.
#5: Hot pavement can burn pets’ paws
At the park, before you get out of the car, you remember that paved roads and paved parking lots retain heat.
“Since you are basically barefoot, Chukar, I’m going to check the ground temperature with my hand before letting you out of the car. If the pavement is too hot for my hand, it’s too hot for your paw pads, and I’ll have to carry you over to the grass, or only let you walk in the shaded section.”
When you put your palm on the pavement, you pull it back quickly. “Ouch!” You are glad you checked. The first year you had Chukar, you didn’t realize that pavement could be too hot for dogs, and Chukar had painful paw-pad blisters that needed veterinary care.
You walk through the park with Chukar at your side, find your favorite picnic spot, spread out your picnic blanket, and start your feast. Chukar finishes quickly and begins racing around with happiness.
#6: Know the signs of heat exhaustion in pets
You watch Chukar carefully, knowing how quickly dogs can get heat exhaustion, or worse heatstroke, which can be fatal in pets. You know the signs—heavy panting, lethargy, lack of coordination, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea—but fortunately, Chukar soon comes back for water, and to rest in the shade.
As you are about to finish eating, you see Chukar watching a bee.
#7: Bee stings need veterinary care
Too late—Chukar has already tried to chomp the bee, which quickly stings your beloved dog on the nose in retaliation. Chukar yelps in pain. Your pet’s face starts to swell. Chukar has been stung before, and you know your pet is not allergic to bees, which would make the situation more serious. And, you know what you need to do.
“That’s the end of our picnic. I can protect you from the summer heat, sunburn, parasites, and paw burns, but it’s hard to protect you from yourself! I need to get you to Alpine Animal Hospital as fast as I can.”
At Alpine Animal Hospital, we want to help keep your pets safe this summer. If you would like additional summer safety advice for your pet, or need to make an appointment for any heat-related reason, give us a call.