The dog days of summer are upon us -- a time that could threaten the health of your pet. Most animals begin to feel uncomfortable in temperatures above 85 degrees. Pet expert Marc Morrone shared these vital tips to make sure your furry and feathered friends stay happy and healthy during the hot weather.
- Clean water bowls with soap and water every day; dishes grow bacteria in hot weather. Leftover fruit in a cage attracts fruit flies, so keep a fruit-fly trap nearby during summer.
- If taking your bird outside, be sure its wings are clipped to prevent it from flying off. Some can fly a little with clipped wings, so if you're unsure about your bird, put a harness on it.
- Don't go out during the hottest times of the day or for long stretches.
- When a bird begins to overheat, it will pant rapidly and stand up very tall with its wings open. Mist it with water and get it to a cooler place.
- Dogs' cooling systems are different from ours -- they can cool off only through panting and sweating a little on the pads of their feet, and usually those pads are walking on hot concrete.
- Warning signs of overheating include excessive panting and glazed eyes; the dog also will not want to move if it is becoming overheated.
- If your dog is overheated, take it to a cool, shady area and give it cool water and spray it with cool water. If your dog is in really bad shape, take it to the vet right away.
- Dogs with flat faces have a harder time breathing and panting. Marc suggests putting ice cubes in a tube sock and loosely wrapping it around their necks.
- For a white-haired dog, use sun block on its nose and belly. Vaseline on pads helps reduce heat level.
- Rabbits can greatly suffer in the heat. In nature, they stay cool in an underground burrow. Be sure the rabbit has fresh, clean water available all the time, and put a frozen bottle of water in the cage for it to lean up against to help it cool off.
- Place bags of ice in a tank in the summer to help keep the temperature down.
- Never put ice cubes directly in a tank. As the ice melts, it may put off impurities into the water that are harmful to your fish.
Hamsters and Gerbils
- Hamsters and gerbils are desert animals by nature, and they handle hot weather well as long as they have a constant source of water.
- Make sure to clean out their water bottles daily with soap and water to prevent bacteria from growing.
- Don't leave pets at home with windows closed and no air conditioning. If you don't have air conditioning, keep a frozen bottle of water on the floor.
- Watch your pets around large pools: Even if there are steps, don't assume your dog knows to use them.
- Carry a canteen of water when you walk your dog.
For more information on the Bombay, Oriental Shorthair, Persian, and Maine Coon, visit cfa.org. For information on Marc's Sirius radio show, "Ask Marc, the Petkeeper," visit marthastewart.com/radio.
Marc Morrone, pet expert
Parrots of the World