Summer is finally here and the lakes are filled with boaters and water-sport enthusiasts. We all know the laws of safety on the water. We check to make sure our boats are running properly, lights are working, and radios and emergency equipment are in tiptop shape. Of course, among the most important items to have are life vests, or flotation devices. You must have enough vests so that every rider on the boat has one.
Please do not forget your animal friends. It is very important that they are correctly fitted so that that, too, can have a fun day with you on the water. No excuses! You can find them in pet stores, specialty shops, online and in catalogs. They come in all sizes, from extra-extra small to extra-extra large. My 5-lb. Chihuahua fits in the former, and my son’s mastiff fits in the latter.
You may think that dogs don’t need to wear a vest because they know how to swim. If a disaster should happen, however, you dog may be thrown overboard and be knocked out or become disoriented. If the dog ends up out in the water for a long time or tries to swim to shore, it could become exhausted. A vest will keep it afloat until help arrives. Just because dogs may instinctively know how to swim doesn’t mean they like the water. They may panic if they were to find themselves thrown in, and because of that they may become exhausted more quickly.
Years ago, when we were having a party at my home, I went out on my pedal boat with a few people. At the time, my pet best friend always went out on the boat with me, just the two of use, and we would have a relaxing ride around the cover. The day of the party, however, there were many people in our yard and I asked them to keep an eye on the dog, to keep her back at the house. So off I went. I was pedaling around when I looked back and there was my dog, swimming after the boat. I didn’t expect this because she didn’t like to be in the water. I had to pedal back to shore to get her out of the water. This is a perfect example of what happens when everyone is watching but no one is really watching!
Another thing you have to be aware of is sun exposure. Animals can get skin cancer, just as we can. Their noses are very sensitive. The lighter their coloring, the more they are at risk. Check out your neighborhood pet store for good skin protection products for your pets.
Do you enjoy taking your pet best friend with you when you go out in the car for a ride or to run an errand? Please be aware of the temperature outside and understand that inside the vehicle it can be dangerously higher. You probably use your air conditioner when you are driving, but when you stop to go into a store, it gets shut off. Interior car temperatures can rise very quickly, and with deadly consequences. A dog’s brain can easily fry in a matter of minutes. You wouldn’t leave your child alone in a (hot) car, so please don’t leave your best four-legged friend there.
I admit that I take my dog with me all the time, but she is small. I use a bag carrier and bring her into stores with me. I never leave her alone in the car. Most dogs are larger and not as portable. Sometimes the safest place for them to be is home.
Another quick thought: Be aware of the fact that slate, blacktop and wood decking absorb heat from the sun. If it is too hot for you to walk barefoot on the surface, it is too hot for your pet.
Always have fresh water available. Never leave your pet tied up for an extended period of time. It has no way to get out of the sun on its own. Be careful at playtime, too. Make sure your pet doesn't experience heat exhaustion. Some signs of heat exhaustion are heavy panting, anxiousness, dizziness or confusion, weakness, very high temperature, diarrhea and vomiting. If any of these occur, first check body temperature. The normal temperature for a dog is 101 to 103 degrees.
Its temperature can shoot up to 104 degrees very quickly. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately for your pet, but first take steps to bring down its temperature. Go to a cooler location. Pour cool water. Be cautious about applying an ice pack to your dog's back because it could damage its internal organs beyond repair.
If your dog is vomiting, do not give it food or water. Let it drink water only after its body temperature reaches 103 degrees. One the temperature has been brought back to normal and signs of heat exhaustion have diminished, take your dog to the vet for a complete check-up to determine if there are any long-term effects.
Prevention is key in keeping our pets healthy. The most important thing you can do during the summer months is to keep your pets hydrated and make sure they do not engage in any extreme exercise during the heat of the day. Our animals are not able to tell us when they aren't feeling well, so always be aware of your pets' behavior. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't.
Have a heart, be smart and think safety first.