Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic and winner of a 2017 Arlington Chamber of Commerce Best Business Award. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.
Though summer is technically almost 2 months away, with the weather we’ve had the last few days it already feels like it! Below is a little jumpstart on things to think about before the heat is here to stay for awhile.
The Weekend Warrior — Just like most people, intermittent and inconsistent exercise can lead to overexertion in our pets! If being active isn’t part of your pet’s regular routine, going for that 6.5 mile hike up Old Rag can lead to overexertion, overheating and injury.
Be cognizant of your pet’s limits and if you’re planning a big hike or a long run, doing a bit of training ahead of time will go a long way in preventing injury.
High-rise syndrome — As it gets nicer outside, apartment cats are more likely to be let out on the balcony and windows are left open. While we always tease that cats have nine lives and are deft when falling… creating a safe balcony and making sure windows are securely screened is paramount to reducing the risk of injury or death related to a fall.
Heat Stroke and other heat-induced maladies — The hottest part of the day tends to be from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and is the worst time of the day to be doing outdoor activities with your pet. Long walks, jogging and hiking should be done early in the morning or in the evening.
Certain breeds of dogs (and cats!) are more sensitive to the heat than others — breeds with “smooshed faces” (i.e. Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Himalayan and American Shorthair cats) are already predisposed to respiratory problems/difficulty… and when it gets hot those problems can be far more apparent.
Additionally, you should NEVER leave your pet alone in a parked car. Even with the windows open that vehicle can become furnace-like, and quickly!
Sun & Contact Burns — Pets can get sunburn too! Dogs and cats that have thin hair or light skin are at increased risk for developing sun-induced skin cancer. The ears and nose tend to be the most susceptible. Talk to your veterinarian about using sunscreen/sunblock on your pet.
Additionally, our dogs and cats can develop painful burns on their feet from walking on hot pavement. Minimizing exposure to hot pavement, walking in the morning and evening and using booties can reduce that risk.
Swimming — Swimming can be a great way to cool off for both you and your dog… however not all dogs know how to swim well! Be sure to stay within the comfort level of your dog and to use a life vest if needed.
Additionally, be aware that not all bodies of water are ideal to be swimming in. Certain gastrointestinal parasites, such as Giardia, flourish in streams and small bodies of water.
Bathing & ear cleaning after swimming, especially if the water source is not ideal, can also help prevent skin and ear infections.
Fleas, Ticks and other Bugs — Fleas and ticks start to come out in full force as it gets warmer. And just because your cat is indoors doesn’t always protect them from these critters as doorways are something they do not respect.
Be sure to keep up regular use of your flea and tick preventive as that is their primary defense against many diseases, including Lyme.
Additionally, other bugs (flies, mosquitoes, etc..) can bite and cause allergic reactions. If you have a pet that seems sensitive to bug bites, be sure to chat with your veterinarian about a Benadryl dose you can safely use in your pet.
Grooming — Shaving can seem like a quick/convenient way to cool your pet down — but remember that fur helps protect your fur-kid from sunburn.
Cats should generally only be shaved if they’re matted or not grooming adequately — not for the heat. And certain breeds of dogs with “double coats” (e.g. Huskies, Akitas) should NOT be shaved as their coat actually helps keep them cool in the heat.
Hydration — Finally, just as with us, hydration for our pets is paramount in the warm weather. Be sure to have clean water available and accessible at all times for both you and your pet.
We hope you and your fur-babies have a safe and enjoyable summer!