As temperatures climb in Texas, it’s time to think about supporting a healthy lifestyle for fur babies during the summer months. Austin-based Firehouse Animal Health Center has some tips for keeping your pets safe and secure while enjoying all of the summer fun Texas has to offer.
Give your cat their very own outdoor space
Indoor cats need outdoor time too! If you’re worried about your cat’s safety while wandering neighborhood streets, consider constructing a catio. An enclosed outdoor space is ideal for keeping cats from the risks of wildlife, vehicles, or getting lost while providing the opportunity for fresh air and exercise. It’s easy to purchase the plans and construct your own for the purrfect space for your feline friends.
“Obesity and boredom of indoor-only cats, leading to health and behavioral problems, are two common issues we see in our veterinary practice,” says the Medical Director for Firehouse’s newest location. Adriana Mendoza, D.V.M. notes, “Allowing them time in something like a catio can give cats the enrichment they need to stimulate their natural predatory instincts by watching birds, squirrels, and other wildlife without the risk of harming the local wildlife or themselves.” Also, when building a catio, place cat trees or other climbing apparatus in the catio to burn off those extra calories. Just make sure to have plenty of water on hand.
Get your dog ready for the beach
Summertime is perfect for getting your pups to shed unwanted pounds. With Texas’ unlimited hiking trails, beaches and swimming holes, there is no excuse for Fido not exercising. Much of a dog’s health relies on maintaining an ideal weight and with the wealth of opportunities for outdoor fun with your pet, your dog will have that beach-ready body in no time.
Protect your dogs from the heat
Dehydration is very common in dogs during the hot months. Bring plenty of water when taking Fido on hikes and bike rides. A collapsible bowl is an inexpensive and convenient way to keep thirsty dogs from overheating.
To prevent heat exhaustion, only exercise dogs early in the morning or later in the evenings when temperatures are cooler. Dr. Mendoza adds, “Just because you can handle running after work when temperatures are the hottest does not mean your dog can, but they sure will try to keep with up you.” Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme panting, loss of stamina leading to eventual collapse. This is a medical emergency, and if those symptoms should occur or you have suspicion of heat exhaustion, take them to your veterinarian immediately! Also, with pavement reaching a temperature of 100-plus degrees, dog booties will keep your pup’s sensitive paws from burning. Vets see an uptick in scorched paws July and August and paw-covers are the key to prevention.
Watch out for mosquitoes
Another tip to keep your pets healthy this summer is a good one for their humans, too: avoid standing water outdoors. Mosquitoes and parasites thrive in these environments and can cause serious health problems. Make sure to keep your pets current on their heartworm medication. “All of our veterinarians here at Firehouse recommend a parasiticide that targets not only heartworm prevention, but flea and ticks as well,” says Dr. Mendoza. “In this part of the United States, the vectors – mosquitoes, fleas & ticks – which transmit diseases that can be life-threatening to our pets, are in abundance.”
Snakes can lurk anywhere
With new construction sites cropping up statewide, snakes and other wildlife are being displaced. Plus, with springtime comes the height of rattlesnake hatching season. Snake avoidance training is offered throughout the state so dogs know how to react when they encounter a slithery animal. According to Dr. Mendoza, “It is important to still seek veterinary care post-snakebite even if your dog has been vaccinated with the rattlesnake vaccine.” In the case of a snakebite, seek immediate attention at an emergency animal center or with your own vet. The danger of snakes is mainly in the early summer months with the risk tapering off as the calendar changes.
As always, keep your pet’s health in check with routine vet screenings. And remember, summertime is about having fun and enjoying yourself, especially with your fur-babies.