Quad-City Creatures By Heidi Dahms Foster, Prescott Valley, Arizona A local blog all about pets and pet activities in the quad-city area.PV, Prescott and beyond.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Time now to think about your pet's care, safety this spring and summer
Heidi Dahms-Foster Special to the Tribune
With a little extra care, you and your pet can enjoy a safe and fun spring and summer.
As spring approaches and then summer dogs its heels, it's time to think about pet care during hot weather. Many people who move to Arizona from other places don't realize how the heat can affect their pets.
I'm always astonished when I see people leave their animals in the car and "just run into the store for a minute." Even now, in a relatively cool March, your car can reach astronomical temperatures within minutes. "Cracking the windows" doesn't help, often there isn't enough breeze, or the breeze is too hot. It's best to leave your pet at home where it's cool, and your "minute" can turn into a lot of minutes if the lines are slow, you forget the time, or worse, you have a medical emergency in the store and your pet is left to suffer in the car. Heat stroke death is a terrible way for a pet to die.
If you see a pet locked in a car on a truly hot day, call the police. The owner may not thank you, but the pet certainly will be relieved. Dogs suffering from heat stroke will often pant heavily, frantically claw at the windows, and bark, until they collapse. Don't let this happen to your pet.
Outside, a shade screen in our climate is not enough. You need at least a double shade screen, well-anchored, and preferably an insulated dog house. You should check your pet's area during all times of the day, because as the sun moves, the shade does also. Your nicely shaded pet in the morning could be subjected to burning sun in the afternoon.
Clean water is ever more important as the temperatures rise. Dogs will tip over, play in, and otherwise mess up a small water dish. A heavy rubber bucket anchored to run or wall works well, and it's wise to check morning and night.
Beside the obvious needs for shelter and fresh water, one thing people often don't think about is their pet's reaction to hotter weather when hiking, walking or playing. Pets who love to play ball or run along with your bike will literally run themselves into the ground. Ten minutes of strenuous ball playing in the heat is more than enough, and for some dogs, particularly obese or short-nosed dogs, too much. Make sure you have provided plenty of water for your pet during playtime, and watch for excessive panting. Take immediate action if your pet staggers, appears disoriented, or worse, collapses. Place them in the shade with a wet towel over them, and run a hose over feet and belly. Call your veterinarian immediately, because heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency.
I cringe when I see people walking or biking with their dogs on the pavement or concrete on a hot day. Worse, I once saw a man jerking his dog around at a car show because the dog wouldn't sit still on the leash. It was because the pavement was burning hot and the dog was suffering. Pavement, concrete and other surfaces (like truck beds!) can be hot enough to cause severe burns.
Spring and summer are the most important times to make sure you pick up waste, not only because the hot weather makes it smell, but because flies can torment your animals and spread disease.
I use a couple of products for my own dogs that I love. One is Ceda-Rest, a horse paddock bedding made of cedar fibers. We use it in dog potty areas in the yard, and in dog runs. It keeps the dogs clean, absorbs virtually all odor, makes cleanup very easy, and repels insects. Olsen's Grain sells Ceda-Rest in 33-lb. bags. You never have to completely replace it, just refresh it from time to time as needed.
The other product I like can come in a number of brands, and is sold at most any pet outlet. That is herbal fly repellent, and will keep flies from chewing on your dog's ears and getting in his eyes. These repellents come in roll-ons that are easy to apply on the face.
One last reminder, take time each day or every few days to go over your pet head to toe, running your fingertips through to the skin. You'll find any hotspots, injuries, lumps or other problems before they get out of hand.
With a little extra care, you and your pet can have a great spring and summer! Enjoy!