From pet-safe BBQ foods to easing the stress of fireworks or travel, PetSmart’s veterinarian shares tips on how to safely have fun with your pet this summer
PHOENIX (June 20, 2023) – Summer is in full swing and PetSmart, the leading pet retailer that will do Anything for Pets, is here to help keep your furry friends cool and comfortable throughout the season. Long summer days are filled with travel, backyard fun and outdoor activities, and PetSmart veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Bruns, DVM, MPVM, shares expert advice on top-searched summer pet safety questions on beating the heat, preparing for fireworks and what dogs can eat at a barbecue.
Staying Safe in the Heat
As temperatures rise throughout the summer, pet parents are searching to know how hot is too hot to take their dogs out for a walk. “There’s an easy way to test whether the ground is too hot to take your dog out for a walk,” says Bruns. “Place the back of your hand on the sidewalk or asphalt, and if you cannot keep it on the surface for about 7 seconds, it’s probably too hot for your dog’s feet. It’s always better to be cautious and put them in booties, keep them in a grassy area or walk them in the early morning when the ground may be cooler.”
Bruns also offers this advice to help dogs keep their cool in the heat:
- Dogs need sunscreen too! Pet-safe sunscreens and balms are important to protect pets under the hot sun and should be applied to areas not covered by fur or hair. It’s best to apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before taking them out and reapplying every 4-6 hours when they are out in the sun or after a swim.
- Proper grooming isn’t just for looks. Help dogs manage their coat by keeping them well-groomed. Simple trims, brushing and deshedding treatments help to keep your pets comfortable and reduce the likelihood that they bring in unwanted plant debris like foxtails or burrs.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion. Act quickly if you notice excessive panting, difficulty breathing, weakness, increased heart rate, diarrhea, vomiting or Get your pet out of direct heat and sun immediately. For dogs, spray them with cool water and place cool (not cold) water-soaked towels on their head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen and take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Complications from heatstroke can be potentially fatal and may not show up for hours or even days, so it is critical to seek veterinary care early.
PetSmart’s highly rated products to help pets beat the heat include cooling Arcadia Trail™ Elevated Canopy Cot with Water-Resistant Roll-Down Sunshade, Arcadia Trail™ Water Repellent Cooling Dog Blanket, Canada Pooch Blue Cooling Bucket Dog Hat, Canada Pooch Rainbow Cooling Dog Bandana, and Banana Boat Sun Protector Spray for Dogs.
Keeping Backyard Cookouts and Pool Time Safe
Summer cookouts by the pool are always better when spent with pets, but many pet parents are searching for advice on what summer foods their dogs can safely eat, such as watermelon. Bruns says “yes” to watermelon and other pet-safe foods in moderation: “Dogs can eat small amounts of many summer fruits and classic barbecue foods, but pet parents still need to be on the lookout to make sure their pets don’t devour everything in sight.”
Tips from Bruns for backyard cookouts and pool hangs with your furry friends include:
- What pups can and cannot eat! Hot dogs, hamburgers and small, cracker-sized portions of unseasoned grilled meat and fish are OK for dogs to eat. Select fruits like watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and pineapple, as well as grilled veggies like zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes are too. But avoid bones from grilled meat and fruits and vegetables including grapes, cherries, onions, avocado, tomatoes, asparagus and mushrooms. A full list of harmful foods for pets can be found here.
- Always be careful around water. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, take precaution when around pools and other water play areas. Outfit them with life jackets, practice getting out of the pool together so they understand where the steps or other dog-friendly exits are, and always keep an eye on them when in the water. More water safety tips for dogs are available here.
PetSmart’s highly rated items to make backyard and pool parties safe include the Arcadia Trail™ High Visibility Flotation Aid, Arcadia Trail™ Reflective Rope Leash and a Top Paw® Foldable Outdoor Dog Pool for cooling dips.
Managing Pet Stress Around Fireworks
The fireworks celebrations on 4th of July bring a lot of excitement but also can bring anxiety for pets as pet parents search for insights on how to keep dogs calm during fireworks. “Make sure your pet has plenty of activity and exercise early in the day before fireworks begin so they can work out any extra energy that may otherwise heighten their stress when they hear the loud noises and see the bright lights,” Bruns says.
Bruns also recommends the following to keep your pet calm on the holiday:
- Provide a secure and quiet space. Dedicate an area for your pet to retreat to, such as a closed-off room or dog crate, and create a comforting environment with their favorite toys, familiar blanket or bedding and even a sound machine or soft music to help drown out loud noises. Don’t forget to cover the windows to block the light if fireworks are in view.
- Ensure they are wearing identification. In the days surrounding the 4th of July holiday shelters see an increase in intakes of stray dogs. Make sure your pet is wearing proper identification tags, that their microchip profile has up-to-date contact information and have a recent photo of your pet on hand in case they do escape.
- Sometimes medication is best. Don’t wait until it’s too late – if you know your pet has heightened reactions for fireworks and exercise early in the day and a calming environment at night aren’t enough, speak with your veterinarian to discuss the best pet-formulated medication that can help alleviate your pet’s anxieties when surrounded by loud noises like fireworks. Plan in advance for a visit to discuss medication options as veterinarians tend to be busy that holiday week and are often closed on July 4.
PetSmart’s highly rated product to help keep dogs calm during fireworks include ThunderShirt Insanely Calm Dog Anxiety Shirt, Only Natural Pet® Hemp Calming Support Soft Dog Chews and ThunderEase® Calming Dog Collar.
Traveling with Pets
A recent PetSmart survey found that for the 57% of pet parents traveling with their dogs this summer, their biggest worry is for their pet’s comfort during the journey itself*. A commonly searched question ahead of the busy travel season is “Should a dog seat belt be used when traveling?”
Bruns says not only should dogs be wearing seatbelts, but they should be buckled in tightly: “It’s common for pet parents to keep restraints loose so a dog can have more room in the car, but it’s best to keep them tightly secured and in the back seat.”
This isn’t the only common thing Bruns says pet parents often get wrong. See here for more tips on how to travel safely in a car with a dog, including the following:
- Keep paws and tongues and noses inside the vehicle at all times. No matter how cute the wind in their fur may be, don’t let your pup hang out the window. It can put them as risk of getting struck by debris or worse if you have to unexpectedly hit the brakes or are in an accident.
- Take frequent breaks. Your dog will not only need to stop to use the restroom, but frequent breaks for food and water are also important for your pet. It gives them a chance to stretch out their legs and get out any extra energy too.
- Don’t forget the toys! Prevent boredom by keeping dogs entertained in the car so they don’t destroy the interior or start sounding like the canine version of “Are we there yet?” Pack a bone or a favorite toy for on-the-road playtime and other toys to help burn off energy at rest stops.
- Most importantly, never leave a pet in a car in the summer.
For more expert advice, products for summer fun and ways to shop, visit PetSmart.com.
*SOURCE: PetSmart Consumer Insights and Market Research 2023
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