Just like us, our pets need care when the weather is hot. They need to be hydrated, they need food and they need shelter. There are many instances, however, where these simple but life-saving items are either forgotten or neglected.
On these hot Florida days, if your pet is an outside pet he/she needs to be monitored very closely and have certain items at their disposal. For starters, pets need water and food. It is illegal to leave your pet for more than 24 hours without either of these items available. If you are going to be away for more than 24 hours, arrange for someone to take care of them for you.
Shelter for your pet is another must-have item. At a minimum your outdoor pet shelter must be three sided with both a floor and roof. It should be at least 6 inches higher than the height of your pet and have adequate room to turn around.
Rosemary Lyons, education and volunteer coordinator for Pasco County Animal Services says, "pet's should always have an opportunity to get into some type of shelter, as a pet owner you are legally required to provide shelter."
Leaving your pet unattended and out in the open without shelter is only inviting your animal to become ill, which in turn can cost you thousands in vet bills and possibly the loss of your animal.
"Lack of shelter, dogs left in cars, animals chained to fences or trees for periods of time are some of the main violations we see," said Lyons.
When you leave a pet in a car, even on comfortable days, the heat can rapidly rise to dangerous levels for your pet.
You need to take special care of short nosed (brachycephalic) breeds such as Pekingese, Pug, Lhasa apso, Boston terrier, Persian cats and so on. These animals are the most likely candidates for heat stroke. These pets need to put more work into moving air in and out, which causes inadequate cooling since they cannot pant as effectively.
Another warm weather life threatening problem your pet can encounter is heart worms.
"One of the biggest dangers for dogs outside, in addition to heat is mosquitoes, and mosquitoes bring heart worms," said Lyons.
All it takes is one bite from an infected mosquito for your dog to contract this all too often deadly disease. It is important to keep your pet up to date on preventive heart worm measures.
Knowing the symptoms of overheating in a pet is also critical, Lyons said. They include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased respiratory and heart rate, drooling, weakness, seizures and an elevated body temperature.
In case of a heat-related emergency, the Humane Society of the United States says to move your pet indoors or into a shaded area and pour cool (not cold) water onto your pet, this will help gradually lower the body temperature. Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck and chest only. You can also let your pet lick ice cubes but limit access to cold water.
"In hot weather, the pet owner should think about four different things," Lyons said. They are:
1) When the weather is hot, you should never leave your animal in the car. Leave your pet home where they can remain cool and safe.
2) Be careful when exercising your pet in hot weather. The pet may seem like he/she wants to run and play, but they will do so until they become sick.
3) Leaving your pet outside in hot weather without proper shelter to help them remain cool is illegal, cruel and not what a good pet owner does.
4) Flea, tick and heart worm control is necessary year round in Florida.
For more information about proper pet care in Florida, visit Pasco County Animal Services online at pascocountyfl.net.