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896 W. Laketon Ave Muskegon Mi, 49441   
(231) 759-7387

BB's Nine Lives List

BB came to live with us in January 2011. She is one of our resident mascots and greeters.  Check back frequently for her Nine Lives List. Each month she will be imparting her veterinary wisdom to help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

This Month: Summer Safety For Your Pet

We all want to include our best friends in our summer activities, however precautions need to be taken when our pets hike, swim, picnic and spend time outdoors with us! Here are some helpful tips to keep your pet HAPPY, HEALTHY and SAFE this summer!                   

1. Always provide fresh water and shade for your dog. Dogs do sweat, though very little. As you probably know, dogs more commonly cool themselves by panting. This can be much more difficult when breathing in warm air or being outdoors for prolonged periods of time with the sun beating down. Fresh water to drink and shady areas are necessary to help keep them cool and avoid overheating, resulting in heat stroke. Watch your dog's behavior for anxiety, lethargy or excessive panting. Your dog may need immediate cooling or medical attention.

2. Open, unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Warmer weather ushers in “high rise” season: the time of year when there is an uptick in the number of cats injured as a result of accidental falls from home or apartment windows. Dogs also fall from apartment windows or terraces, but not as often as cats. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

3. Don't let the bugs bite!  Mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other pesky bugs and worms are always a threat to your pets. Diseases such as Heartworm, Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are only a few diseases commonly transmitted from these parasites. Please keep your pet protected with a monthly preventative! There are many options available and your veterinarian can help you find the best products for your pet's lifestyle.

4. Don't assume your dog wants to or even can swim! Though most dogs instinctively know how to swim, many cannot swim for long periods of time, and some breeds have difficulty swimming at all, depending upon their body condition and structure. First, take your pet out in shallow water before taking them on a big excursion. You can even try a kiddy pool to expose them to water for the first time. See how your pet reacts to the water- some dogs think water is scary and it may not be a fun experience for them. Never force your pet into the water. Second, once you move on to deeper water, you may want to consider a doggy life vest to ensure your pet's safety. A life vest will offer something for you to grab on to if your dog needs assistance, as well as keeping them afloat if they tire or struggle in the water.

5. NEVER leave your dog in the car! It only takes moments in a hot car for your dog or cat to overheat even with the windows cracked. It can easily reach over 100 degrees inside a vehicle sitting in the sun. It's always best to leave your pet at home rather than risk their life.

6. Pets can get a sunburn too! Pets with light colored skin or thinly haired, light colored, short coats can get sunburned just like humans. Besides the discomfort of sunburn, pets are susceptible to certain types of skin cancers too. If your pet is spending long periods of time outdoors ask your veterinarian about using sunscreen on your pet.

7. Keep your dog's paws cool. Surfaces heat up very quickly when the sun is out. Asphalt and metal are two that will get really hot! Prolonged contact with this kind of heat can burn and blister a pet's paw and can also increase their body temperature, causing heat stroke. Truck beds are not recommended for dogs to stand in during summer weather. Have your dog travel in the cab instead (this avoids accidents and injuries as well)! Avoid asphalt on your doggie walks, or at least keep these surfaces limited. Grassy, sandy areas to hike and walk are more ideal. Dog booties can be purchased to cover their feet if needed. It only takes a short time to get your pooch adjusted to these and they will thank you for it!

8. Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.

9. Keep your dog confined. Summer activities mean lots of excitement, new smells, other animals out and about and new places to explore. Make sure your pet is leashed in any unfamiliar environment. Dogs can easily get excited, distracted or frightened, and unexpectedly bolt. Even the most obedient dog cannot always be trusted to come when called, especially when there's something super interesting happening. Err on the side of caution and keep your pet leashed. It's always a good idea to have your pet microchipped too, just in case!

Perhaps the most important tip is to be prepared and pay attention to any changes in your pet's health or behavior. Summer is a great time to spend with your furry friend and we want it to be a safe, fun and memorable time. If you have any questions about your pet's safety, please call us for advice. Have a wonderful time this summer!