NEW YORK—Memorial Day is considered by many the unofficial start of summer, and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) reminds pet owners that, amidst the fun and games, pet health should be kept top of mind to help ensure a safe season for all.
“Memorial Day is typically filled with travel, parties and fun under the sun,” said Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “While it’s certainly enjoyable to spend this time with our pets, we can’t forget to take those extra steps to make sure they’re protected and not put in risky situations.”
Below are the top five safety tips pet owners need to remember this summer:
- Travel in Style. Traveling can be highly stressful for our pets. If you’re planning a road trip, prep your pet in advance by taking short rides in the car and getting them used to riding in a crate or car harness. “Pet owners should never leave their animals unattended in a parked vehicle,” said Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. “Parked cars, even with windows open, become very hot in a short amount of time, and this can lead to heatstroke or death.” If you must travel by air, putting your pet in cargo isn’t ideal. If this is unavoidable, take great care to purchase the required crate and tell every airline employee you are traveling with a pet in cargo to avoid your pet being left on the tarmac or outside during extreme weather.
- Keep Cool. Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of water when is the weather is hot.. Also, make sure your pet has a shady place to escape the sun and don't let your dog linger outdoors, especially on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your dog's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can get burned.
- Watch What They Eat. Summertime can be perfect for backyard barbecues or parties, but remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, and remember that the snacks you serve your friends should not be treats for your pet. Any change of diet – even for one meal – may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Make sure to avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol, since these are poisonous to pets.
- Beware of “High-Rise Syndrome”. During warmer months, many animal hospitals and veterinarians see an increase in injured animals as a result of “High-Rise Syndrome,” which is when pets fall or jump out of windows and are seriously or fatally injured. Keep all unscreened windows in your home closed and make sure screens are tightly secured.
- Love the Leash. Warm weather can inspire longer walks, but while this is exciting for both dog and owner, it’s important that dogs are always kept on leashes -- with collarsand up-to-date ID tags -- to protect them from getting loose and injuring themselves or others.
If your dog or cat ingests a potentially toxic substance, please contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance. For more information on having a fun, safe summer with your pet, please visit www.aspca.org.