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Ask the Vet: Top 10 tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer

Ask the Vet: Top 10 tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer

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Dear Readers: There are so many distractions in our lives right now that it’s easy to forget some of the basics of caring for our pets. Knowing that your pets’ health and safety is always a priority, here are my top 10 tips to keep your pets as safe as possible during these hot summer months.

1. Never leave your pet in a hot car! Milder temperatures can be misleading and the inside of a car can be 20-30 degrees higher even with the windows open. Any period of time in a hot car, no matter how short, can push an animal into life threatening hyperthermia. Leave your pet at home if you know it will have to stay alone in your car.

2. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh water. An increase in heat and activity increases the need for additional water consumption, and animals can get very sick if they’re not allowed to drink freely. Make sure you have water in your car and a collapsible water bowl, so you are always prepared to meet this need.

3. With more outdoor activities and travel during the summer, you must protect your pet from parasites such as ticks, fleas, heartworm and intestinal parasites. Ask your veterinarian for advice about which products are most appropriate for your region and your pet.

4. Also, your pet must be fully vaccinated. With more animals outside and possible exposure to wild animals, there is more risk of transmitting infectious diseases. Your veterinarian can talk you through which vaccines are essential for your pet.

5. Protect your pet’s paws from the hot ground. We may not feel the hot pavement because we are typically wearing shoes, but you can be sure that your pet does. Their paws may be very tough, but they can burn on hot surfaces, and they can also get damaged from rough ground. Avoiding hot surfaces and protecting the paws with booties can help prevent damage.

6. With more people out and about in the summer, it is important that you have control of your pet at all times. This means keeping your dog on a leash in areas where there are large numbers of people, cars, wildlife, and other animals. Keeping your dog on a leash will help avoid confrontations with other dogs and stop your pet from running in front of a moving vehicle.

7. If your pet must be outside during the day in the heat, then providing a small, shaded baby pool full of cool water is a wonderful way for your pooch to cool off when you are not home. Filling it with ice water can provide a cooling environment all day.

8. Even with fur, some animals are susceptible to sunburn if exposed to too much sun. This is especially true in animals that have a thin hair coat or a very light colored hair coat. You can purchase sunscreen specifically made for animals to apply to those areas that have a higher exposure to sun.

9. Exercise your pets in the cooler hours, such as the early morning or later in the evening, and don’t overdo it. If your pet has not been getting regular exercise throughout the year, then taking them on a 10-mile hike will be too much. Slow increases in exercise are much better than abrupt increases.

10. Finally, keep your pet safe around water! Not all animals can swim, so make sure your pet is fully restrained on boats or that they are wearing a safety vest to help keep them safe if they fall in the water.

Have a safe and fun-filled summer with your furry friends!

Dr. Julianne Miller is a Flagstaff veterinarian. She can be reached at


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