June is Great Outdoors Month, a great time to get outside and explore the great outdoors with your furry friends. With social distancing rules still in place for many, spending time outdoors is a great excuse for getting out of the house while staying safe.
When you are outdoors with your pet(s), remember that there are several things you must do to keep them safe while enjoying your time outside. First and foremost is to ensure your pet is up to date on their flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives. No one wants to bring these pests home or deal with the potentially dangerous repercussions they can cause.
Second, be sure to provide your pet with plenty of refreshing water. As the temperatures climb, it is critical that they (and you) stay hydrated. If you are hanging out at home outside, bring your pet’s water bowl outside and keep an eye on it to ensure it stays full. If you’re out exploring, you can bring a collapsible water bowl and bottle of water with, or you can check out these dog water bottle and collapsible bowl options from our friends at Kurgo and PetSafe.
When you are getting ready to go outside, pay attention to the temperature. The surface temperature of sidewalk and asphalt are often much higher than the degrees listed, so it is important to first feel the surface before allowing your pet to walk on it. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for their paws. Dogs do not sweat normally; they sweat through their paw pads. If you notice your dog leaving wet paw prints, it is time to get them inside to cool off because they are overheated and could suffer from heatstroke.
Speaking of heatstroke, it is critical to understand the warning signs. Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others, including dogs who are older, overweight, have thick coats, or are brachycephalic (flat-faced breeds). Excessive panting, drooling, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, vomiting, and reddened gums are all signs of heatstroke. If you believe your pet is suffering from heatstroke, it is critical to remove them from the heat immediately. Try to cool your dog down by either giving them a bath or hosing them down in cool water. Be careful not to cool them too quickly as that can cause problems, too. If those are not options, place a towel on their back and continue to soak the towel and your dog in cool water. As you are doing so, contact your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary clinic to let them know you are on your way in – time is of the essence!
While spending time outside, you and your pet may encounter gnat swarms, biting flies, and bees. It is also helpful to keep antihistamines available for your pet should they have an allergic reaction to any of these bugs. Talk to your local veterinarian about which product they recommend for your pet and at what dose.
When you come inside from your adventures, be sure to do a thorough check over your pet for any nicks, scratches, and more importantly – ticks. While your pet’s monthly dose of tick preventative helps kill attached ticks and prevent tick-borne illnesses, it does not prevent the tick from actually attaching. Be sure to carefully check your pet’s arm pit region and groin, between their toes, ears, and lips – all favorite places of ticks. Should you find a tick on your dog or cat, here are seven steps to help you remove it.
Lastly, it is a great idea to have a pet first aid kit ready to go in case of an emergency. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a short list of products to include. The American Red Cross also has a full list of suggested items, too.
With Minnesota receiving an estimated 46 nice days out of the year, it’s a great idea to get outside to enjoy as many as possible. With hundreds of parks and hiking trails to explore, there’s no shortage of fun outdoor activities to experience with your pets.