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Tuesday 26 July 2011

19 ways to keep your pets safe this summer

Safety tips for cats and dogs at home
1. Let your dog swim in the backyard pool, if he wants to. This is a good way for him to cool off, but remember to hose him down afterward because chlorine may irritate his skin. Never leave a pet unattended around a pool. Small dogs and cats are at a higher risk for drowning than medium to large dogs.

2. Use sunscreen, especially if your dog or cat has white hair, light skin or has a short coat. Protect the areas around the nose and ears, but use as little as possible. Since there are no commercially available animal sunscreens, check with your vet about using a baby sunscreen with a zinc-oxide base.

3. If your dog has thick or long hair, trim his coat before the hot weather hits so that it is two to three centimetres long. The heat will be more bearable.

4. Provide plenty of fresh water inside your home and out. Be sure to change the water two to three times a day to keep the water clean because bacteria grows rapidly in warm weather.

5. Avoid long, intense walks when it is too hot or humid. How well he handles the heat depends on your pet's age and breed. Asphalt can become extremely hot and burn his paws; walking on grass is more comfortable. If a heat or smog warning has been issued, skip the walk.

6. Keep pets away from bee hives. A facial sting may cause eyelids to swell shut. Talk to your vet about using an antihistamine in case of emergency.

7. Protect your pet from blackfly and mosquito bites by making a homemade repellent. Slice two lemons, add 1 cup (250 millilitres) of hot water and a couple sprigs of rosemary; soak overnight. Pour it into a spritz bottle and spray directly on your pet's coat. Be sure to avoid the eyes.

8. If your cat goes outside, don't plant lilies in your garden because they are toxic if eaten. Even a small amount can lead to kidney failure and death.

9. Avoid using toxic chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, in any area where your pet might wander. Your garden centre will help you with natural-based pest and weed control.

Pet safety: On the road
10. Try test drives if your pet suffers from motion sickness. Your vet may prescribe medication if your pet suffers from ill effects during travel.

11. Feed him about four hours before you leave to avoid an upset stomach.

12. Keep your cat in a carrier when in the car. If you don't, he can quickly escape when the car door is opened.

13. Take along a first-aid kit, water and your pet's own food to help avoid digestive problems. Offer small amounts of food and water regularly if in the car for more than four hours. Jot down the number of the closest vet to your destination and along your route.

14. Use a life jacket designed for your dog in a boat or canoe. Just like humans, dogs are at risk for drowning if the canoe tips and they become exhausted.

Car alert: When the temperature is 25ºC, a car interior can reach 36ºC in 10 minutes and 42ºC in 20 minutes. Never leave your pet in a car. Even opening the windows will not cool down the inside enough.

Caged pets
15. Never leave caged pets, such as rats, rabbits, ferrets and hamsters, outside for more than a few hours because they are particularly sensitive to the heat. If you want your bunny to enjoy the summer weather, keep her under some deep shade.

16. Provide your pet with something cool to lean on, such as a piece of marble, will relieve her from the heat.

17. Your birds should never be kept directly in the sun, even though most birds can handle, and even enjoy, the heat. Keep their water cool and fresh. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and cool your bird down with a refreshing mist.

18. Even though reptiles are desert creatures, it is not recommended to keep them in direct sunlight because they can get a sunburn. Mark Koenig, owner of Exotic Wings & Pet Things in St. Clements, Ont., says that if you'd like your iguana to get some fresh air, do so before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

19. Fish need protection, too. The water in a fish tank should be between 68ºC and 74ºC. Direct sunlight will heat the water up quickly, so keep your fish indoors. If the water does get warm, a great way to cool it down without having to change the tank is to place a small handful of ice cubes in a sealed plastic bag in the tank.

Article originally published in Canadian Living By Miriam Osborne

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