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Outside with Pets

Petkeeper Marc Marrone offers tips for keeping pets safe outdoors and inside during warmer months.
Martha Stewart Living Television

My Amazon parrot loves to go outside with me, but during the summer, I'm a little apprehensive about letting him out for long periods. How hot is too hot for a parrot? How can you tell if a parrot is overheating?
First and foremost, make sure your bird's wings have been professionally clipped before you allow it loose outside. If you have any doubts or worries that your bird may attempt to escape, you can simply take its cage outside or put the bird in a harness. Don't, however, take the bird outside during the hottest part of the day. Birds -- and many animals -- feel uncomfortable when the temperature rises above 85 degrees and should not stay out for extended periods. You'll know your bird is overheating if it opens its wings and pants like a dog does in hot weather.

My wife and I have a Bernese mountain dog. When we take him out in the car, he loves to stick his head out the window. Is this safe?
Although dogs can't seem to resist poking their heads out the window to enjoy the breeze, one of the biggest dangers in allowing them to do so is the potential for their eyes to be damaged by the dust and grit flying through the air. If your dog really loves the fresh air, try using a window vent guard, which will keep his eyes well protected. And it's worth reminding all dog owners that they should never leave their pets unattended during the summer. If a car is in direct sunlight and the air outside is hotter than 80 degrees, the car's interior can exceed temperatures of 150 degrees within a mere 15 minutes -- and even higher temperatures if the car is a dark color or the weather is humid.

I live in an apartment and have an indoor cat. Aside from making sure there's enough water for him to drink and leaving the air conditioner turned on during hot summer days, are there any other things I can do to keep him cool?
Air conditioning is the best way to keep your pet cool, but it isn't necessary to maintain especially low temperatures. Pets shouldn't spend any significant time in temperatures above 85 degrees, so if you set your air conditioner's thermostat to that level, your pet will be fine. Pets are also adept at seeking out cooler areas inside, such as tile floors in bathrooms. One other idea for cats or puppies that spend time in baskets or crates -- or even for smaller animals that live in cages -- is to use frozen water bottles, which your pets will love leaning against.

My 9-year-old son has a pet guinea pig that he loves to play with after school. Now that it's warm outside, is it okay to let my son take him outdoors? And if so, what's the best way to do this so that the guinea pig doesn't run away?
If you and your son take the guinea pig outside, keep an especially close eye on it. Guinea pigs suffer from excessive heat, just like all animals, so make sure it doesn't spend any serious time in direct sun. It's also important to remember that these pets will instinctively graze on grass, so be sure the lawn hasn't been chemically treated. Small playpens that keep pets like guinea pigs confined, yet still provide a degree of mobility, are available at pet stores, as are small harnesses. If you do use a harness, make sure it fits snugly; you shouldn't be able to get more than a couple fingers in between the harness and the animal.

Resources
Learn more about Marc Morrone's store, Parrots of the World, and Premier Pet Products' leashes, harnesses, and collars for dogs, cats, birds, and other pets.