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Summer Fun with Your Pets

It’s summer time, which means long days spent outside, soaking up sunlight, extra time out at the park or on walks, picnics with friends and family and hopefully some peace and quiet in the yard. As much as we may all look forward to summer, weather patterns have really changed in our province these past few years and we are unfortunately faced with more risks being outside. These same risks apply to our pets, and in some cases, they are affected even more than we are. 

By now we are all aware of what the Air Quality Index (AQI) is and how important it is for us to monitor this closely when fires are actively burning in our province. All mammals are equally affected by excessive exposure to poor air quality; dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, lethargy, migraines, the list goes on. The difference between humans and their animal counterparts is, we know to recognize these signs in ourselves and we have medications and methods of treating ourselves once overexposure has occurred. Our dogs and cats are not very good at showing us when something is wrong and we can’t treat them the same way we treat ourselves. Trust me when I say, I know how frustrating it can be when your pet wants to be outside during times of poor air quality or weather and you have to keep them inside. They are likely to annoy you in hopes of getting what they want. The risk to their health from being outside for any time more than is necessary is not worth them leaving you alone. 

When we aren’t concerned about the air quality, we still need to be aware of the temperature outside and how differently our animals respond to it. Here are a few quick facts to remember: 

  • If the pavement is too hot for you to hold your palm against for 10 seconds, it is too hot to be walking your dog. If you can’t manage it for those seconds, imagine walking barefoot for half an hour or more. 

  • Dogs and cats do not sweat the same way we do, as they mainly only sweat through their paws. This and panting are some of the only methods our pets have to regulate their own body temperature. 

  • Shaving your animal to “help” them stay cool in the summer is not an effective solution and more often than not can actually cause more harm than good. Our pet's fur acts as a shield from the sun's harmful rays, preventing sunburn and the risk of melanoma. Below are some safer, more effective ways of keeping your animals cool this summer. 

  • Our pets can get sunburnt! Especially thin coated or hairless breeds and animals with alopecia. Any skin that is exposed for more than a few minutes should be covered with a thin, UV protective layer. Also, there are pet safe sunscreens on the market, we have one with raspberry oil available at the store. 

Options to keep Shadow and Sassy cool as cucumbers are numerous. From cooling vests, harnesses and bandanas to toys that you soak in water and freeze to make a nice cold snuggle buddy for long, hot, restless evenings. We have pop up pools that fold down into easy to store formats and cooling mats in a variety of sizes. We also have waterproof collars, leashes and harnesses so that you don’t have to deal with nasty smelling gear after your pup takes a dip in the lake. We are always on the lookout for ways to keep your furry companions comfortable and entertained, all year long.

Another fun way to help your pet chill out is to feed them frozen treats. Dogs and cats alike are often fascinated by ice cubes; they are a simple and free treat for animals to crunch, lick or even just bat around for some easy entertainment. Plus, you get the added bonus of stepping in a cold, melted puddle unexpectedly. If you’re feeling creative, we have added a fun recipe to make pupsicles for a delicious cooling treat. Freezing canned food, raw food, goat’s milk or peanut butter mixed with plain yogurt along with some fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables inside of a West Paw Toppl, a classic Kong or on a lick mat is a great way to keep you animal occupied for an extended time, while also bringing their temperature down. 

Our animals love being outside and hopefully yours have a small space they can call their own, be it a backyard, a balcony or in the case of cats, a small enclosure/catio. Some ways that we can make sure our pets outside time is the best it can be, is to ensure they always have access to shade and fresh water. Shade is crucial in animals regulating their body temperature. Educate yourself on the signs of heat stroke and keep an eye on animals left outside for extended periods of time whenever the mercury gets over 25℃. Be cautious about what you plant in areas that your animals can access; we all know that lilies are toxic to dogs and cats, but plants that are often overlooked are tulips, begonias and the leaves of tomato plants and rhubarb. Always do some research on toxic plants before planting your yard, if your pets have easy access to the full area.  

Summer, like all seasons, has its benefits and its risks. We as individuals sometimes don’t make the best choices for ourselves when it comes to heat, sun exposure and not drinking enough fluids to accommodate for how much we sweat. This writer personally hates the feeling of sunscreen and had to learn the hard way that greasy sunscreen will always be better than a sunburn so bad, it blisters. If you have ever had to watch over a child, you know that no matter how much they may protest, it is your responsibility to make choices for them that keep them safe and feeling their best. Our pets are no different. We like to think that animals have better instincts, that they can decide for themselves how much sun is too much sun, but most of our pets are just furry little toddlers running around, being a hazard to themselves. It’s our job as pet parents to ensure they are happy and healthy.


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