Summer is in full swing, and temperatures are heating up nationwide. We know that as a responsible pet parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your best four-legged friends cool. So when you look at your Pomeranian, Golden Retriever or long-haired cat wearing a thick, fluffy coat, you might feel tempted to break out your grooming tools and give him a serious hair cut.
But hold those clippers! While you or I would hate to sport a fur coat in 100-degree weather, your pets’ fur coats are actually providing them with heat relief.
“A dog’s coat is kind of like insulation for your house,” explains Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Insulation stops your home from getting too cold in winter, but it also keeps it from overheating in summer—and your dog’s coat does the same thing.”
Dogs’ coats have several layers, and these layers are essential to your dog’s comfort in the heat. Robbing your dog of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort and overheating. And keeping your dog cool isn’t the only reason to leave his coat intact, Dr. Murray warns. Your dog’s coat prevents your pup from getting sunburn and helps protect her from skin cancer.
So what can you do? It is ok to give your long-haired dog a “summer cut”—trimming her long hair may make it more manageable. It is best to allow a professional groomer to perform the haircutting, and never shave down to the skin or try to cut the hair yourself with scissors.
If you prefer not to cut your dog’s hair, that’s fine. Dogs with thick coats naturally shed so that they have a lighter coat in the summer. Remember to brush your dog’s fur and bathe her frequently as clean, brushed fur allows for better air circulation.
Of course, pet parents should remember to provide a shady area when taking your pet outside, and to provide plenty of water during hot days—hydration is key! For more important information on summer pet care, read our Hot-Weather Tips.
Summer is finally here, but do you know which popular warm weather items could be poisonous to your pets? Common hazardous household items include insect repellent, alcohol, sunscreen and glow sticks—the culprits may be surprising!
In preparation for the upcoming summer months, we are hosting a live Twitter chat with Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, and Dr. Justine Lee, board-certified emergency critical care specialist and toxicologist. Join us on Wednesday, June 10 from 3:00 to 4:00 P.M. ET as Dr. Wismer and Dr. Lee answer all of your questions related to protecting your pets from harmful substances.
We’ll also test your pet poison knowledge with a few trivia questions. Two participants will win ASPCA coolers, and one participant will win a T-shirt!
Today is National Running Day, celebrating one of the best ways to get healthy and stay in shape. Although many people prefer to run solo, you might have an eager running buddy right in your own home! Besides keeping your pet in good shape, a healthy dose of daily exercise also helps prevent behavioral issues in dogs such as chewing, hyperactivity, and rough playing. Going for a brisk walk or run is also a great way to bond with your pup, and there are even 5Ks that cater to the canine fitness crowd!
Here are a few of our top tips for bringing your dog along on your next morning run:
1.Young pups on the run: While energetic young dogs might seem to be the perfect running partner, dogs under 18 months of age should not participate in sustained periods of jogging or running since their bones are still growing.
2.Prevent chronic pain: Rule out any health or joint issues with your vet before taking your dog on the road or trail, and keep an eye out for any signs of soreness or discomfort both before and after an exercise session.
3.Conditioning for canines: Just like humans, dogs need to work their way up to longer runs, too! Start off slow, adding an extra few minutes each week to build up your pup’s endurance.
4.Keep it cool: Consider the weather before taking your pooch out for a run. Sunny sidewalks can scorch your pet’s feet and hot, humid days prove an extra challenge since dogs can’t sweat to stay cool. Bring a portable water bowl for your dog and move your run to early morning or after dusk hours on hotter days.
5.Stay safe & in control: Dogs should always wear a collar with identification and stay on a leash when on a run. Additionally, giving your dog a few minutes at the beginning of your workout to sniff and explore for a bit helps him warm up and will help you avoid having to stop at a tree every minute along the way!
Having a canine companion on your workout can turn that dreaded dose of cardio into a fun bonding activity for you and your dog that you’ll be sure to commit to. Learn more about the benefits of exercise for your dog and find out how you can help other pets in need while running for Team ASPCA.
As the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is a great excuse to get outdoors. But whether you’re partying, barbequing, or just soaking up some rays, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind at all times. To prevent any Memorial Day mishaps, we’ve put together some tips to help protect animals during the “Dog Days” of the season.
Barbequing is one of the best parts of Memorial Day, but remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from animals, and remind guests not to give them any table scraps or snacks. Raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and avocado are all common at barbeques—and they’re all especially toxic to animals.
Be Cool Near the Pool
Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool or lake—not all dogs are expert swimmers! Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Also, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains potentially dangerous chemicals like chlorine.
Skip the Spray
Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellant and sunscreen can be toxic to pets. Signs of repellent toxicity include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. DEET, a common insecticide in products for humans, may cause neurological issues in dogs.
Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so if you’re spending time outside, give them plenty of fresh, clean water and make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Note that animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Time spent outdoors comes with the added risk of pets escaping. Make sure that your pet is fitted with a microchip or ID tag with identifying information, or both. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Opt for a Humane Holiday
Everyone loves a Memorial Day barbecue, but for those who eat meat, eggs or dairy, avoiding the worst factory-farmed products can be tricky. For help making the most compassionate choices this holiday (and all year long!), be sure to reference our humane picnic tips.
Although dogs are our best friends, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by canines in the United States every year. Children are the most common victims of dog bites, and at least half of the 800,000 people who receive medical care for dog bites each year are children. To reduce the number of these injuries, adults and children should be educated about bite prevention, and dog owners should practice responsible dog guardianship. May 17-23 is Dog Bite Prevention Week, and we’d like to take this opportunity to share a few ways that you can prevent dog bites from happening in your community.
Ask first before petting a dog. When meeting an unfamiliar dog, don’t reach out to pet her. First, ask her pet parent, “May I pet your dog?” A strange hand in a dog’s face may scare her, leading to a bite.
After you receive permission to pet a dog, let her sniff your closed hand. Then, you may proceed to pet her shoulders or chest. Avoid petting the top of the dog’s head.
Don’t toucha dog who is sleeping, eating or chewing a toy. Respect her space, as startled dogs are more likely to bite.
Avoid dogs who are barking or growling. It is also best to steer clear of dogs who are loose, behind a fence or tied up.
If an unknown dog approaches you, stay quiet and still. Do not run or scream.
Please share our handy guide below with your friends and family members on your social media networks. For more information, visit aspca.org/dogbiteprevention.