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Posted June 26, 2017 | 4:43 PM

The Dog Days of Summer can be Dangerous

9 Ways to Protect Your Pets this Summer

Now that summer is here to stay, make sure you keep your pets in mind. From overheating because of the scorching sun to getting sick from eating backyard plants, the summer months can be harmful to your pets if you aren't aware and don't prepare.

Here are a few do's and don'ts from Hillsborough County's Pet Resource Center to help you keep your furry friends safe throughout the summer.

Do's

  • Do keep water on hand wherever your pet is to avoid dehydration during the humid days. You can also give them ice cubes or pet-friendly frozen treats to help keep them cool.
  • Do walk your pets in the early morning or late evening to avoid the full force of the sun and midday heat, which can lead to your pet overheating.
  • Do know the symptoms of heat stroke - excessive panting and drooling, weakness, disorientation, and/or seizures.
  • Do update your contact information on your pet's collar and microchip before you go on vacation. This will allow for a quicker reunion if your pet gets out while you're gone.
  • Do groom your dogs and cats to keep their coats light to allow for air circulation that will help regulate their body temperature. However shaving a double coated dog is not recommended and can be harmful.
  • Do use pet-safe sunscreen on hairless or short-haired pets and pets with white coats. This protects their skin from sun burn.
  • Do monitor your pets around pools and large bodies of water so they don't accidentally fall in and possibly drown. If you take your pets on a boat, do have a pet life vest for each pet to wear.
  • Do have a plan for your pets in case of a disaster, like a hurricane. Learn more here.
  • Do know where dog-friendly places are located in your neighborhood, like the Hillsborough County Dog Parks.

Don'ts

  • Don't leave your pet in your car unattended. Dogs and cats don't sweat like humans so they can easily overheat and die if left in the car especially in the hot, summer months.Don't walk your pet on hot pavement as it can burn their paws.
  • Don't shave a double coated dog. Shaving them does not help keep them cool; it does quite the opposite. If your dog has a double coat, consult your veterinarian on ways to manage the heat. If you aren't sure what type of coat your dog has, ask your veterinarian.
  • Don't let your pet eat backyard plants that grow during the summer months as many are toxic. For a list of toxic plants, visit here.
  • Don't forget your flea and tick medication. Fleas and ticks thrive in hot temperatures, and dogs and cats can get sick from flea and tick bites.
  • Don't let your pet drink any liquids from the ground. Leaked substances from cars and other sources, like antifreeze, can be extremely toxic.

If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, you need to:

  • Cool them by submerging them in water or running a hose over the pet. It is very important to cool the animal's head but be sure to keep water out of their airways. Put the animal in an air-conditioned vehicle, building or at least in the shade.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately.
  • Notify authorities. To report an animal in danger or heat distress, immediately notify a law enforcement officer and call the Pet Resource Center's Animal Control Division at (813) 744-5660.