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Help pets beat the heat

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Summer is a great time to be outdoors with your pets, but they need to be kept cool just like anybody else.

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Summer is a great time to be outdoors with your pets, but they need to be kept cool just like anybody else. Photo Store

Summer poses many challenges for pets.  Heat, bugs and things they can get into can all pose problems for our furry friends.

Keeping your pooch cool in the summer isn’t hard, but it can be easy to forget that they rely on us for help.  Hydration is the most important thing to remember. Always make sure fresh water is available for all your pets, especially during play and exercise.  Keep a water bottle for your pet as well as yourself when you are out on long walks.  Cool, clean water is key, but be careful not to overcool a dog with ice cubes, which has been linked to causing bloat.  And ice cubes can be a choking hazard as well.

Wetting them down with the hose can be good fun, but remember that they have a fairly large shake radius afterwards.  

Because they don’t sweat like we do, you can help them keep cool this way. A doggie pool can be fun as well, and if you don’t have one made for dogs a kiddie pool can work in a pinch.  There are gel-filled cooling mats, coats and bandanas that you can soak, and the evaporation cools the pet.  There are also mats you can fill with water which will draw the heat out of the animal like an unheated waterbed.

If your dog likes getting into ponds or other standing water, you may risk getting ear infections from the bacteria in the water, or the extended dampness in the ear.  It is a common thing, and can be easily avoided.  Keep the ears clean and dry after they take a dip by using an ear cleaning solution.  There are different types— the thicker ones work well for cleaning buildups, the thinner ones are better for cleaning and drying ears after swimming.  A little prevention can save big vet bills and discomfort for the pet.

We all know the perils of pets in parked cars. Please, do not make this tragic mistake.  While there are solar-powered vents and grills you can put in the windows, and remote starters will keep the car running with the air conditioning on, the chances for something awful to happen are just too great. Remember, command starts have a time limit on how long they stay running for, and if you get delayed just a few minutes, tragedy can strike.
UV protection is important for pets too.   Thin-haired dogs, like Boxers, Greyhounds, or shaved and pink-skinned dogs like Bichons or Shih Tzus can burn.  Covering up with a t-shirt, hat, and sunglasses can help (yes, there are doggie sunglasses).  If those aren’t options, sensitive areas like pink noses and tips of the ears can be vulnerable, and like us, sunscreen helps. 

But, unlike us, they tend to lick themselves, so it is important to find non-toxic products, without PABA or Zinc Oxide.  If you aren’t 100% sure, ask your vet for guidance.

Many flea and tick products can also have a secondary effect of protecting against mosquitoes and biting flies.  Check the package to see if yours does, and make sure to apply regularly. If you need additional bug protection, be careful that you use non-toxic, pet-approved products. 

Many flea sprays have biting insect-repellant effects as well, and are safe.
Summer is a great time to spend time outdoors with your pets. A little thought beforehand can make it not only fun, but safe.

Contact Jeff with your questions or ideas at aardvarkpets@shaw.ca or visit www.aardvarkpets.com

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