Although it’s natural to include pets in our outdoor activities, it’s important to remember that we are responsible for their safety as well as fun.
Be sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, and heartworm, flea, tick medications. Bring proof of rabies vaccination for park or recreational area excursions. Remember that heat and overexertion can be deadly. Cars, RVs and tents overheat quickly and vigorous exercise in hot weather can result in heatstroke. When traveling, bring information about local veterinarians.
Water is essential for cooling down as well as drinking. Also, bring food, sturdy leash, proper car restraint (kennel or seatbelt), doggie waste bags, first-aid kit, pet sunscreen, bed/blanket and towels.
Boating and camping require extra gear. Like us, pets need life vests. Swimming long distances or in turbulent water may result in drowning, so get that life vest. Be sure it fits and test it in a safe environment such as a swimming pool so your pet is used to it. Use padded protective booties for hiking rough terrain. Provide a safe place to sleep such as your tent or vehicle.
Hypothermia and hyponatremia are two conditions to be avoided. Exposure to cold water can cause hypothermia especially when temperatures drop in the evening. Hyponatremia results from low blood sodium caused by ingesting too much water during a day of constant swimming. As with sunstroke, if you suspect either of these conditions, get your pet to a vet ASAP.
Toxic plants and mushrooms as well as poisonous snakes can be deadly. Smaller pets look like easy prey to predators such as coyotes, wild cats, hawks, eagles and owls. Larger pets can be predators themselves. So protect wildlife by obeying local leash laws and allow off-leash activity in designated areas only.
Finally, do not lose your pet. Pets should always wear a collar with readable, up-to-date ID tags for easy identification and be micro-chipped in case the collar falls off. GPS devices are good for pets that may roam but they only work where GPS is available and when the battery is charged.
So protect your pet as you enjoy the last days of summer together!
Happy Tails: JoJo, a 6-month-old boxer/husky mix, was among the Front Street shelter dogs at an offsite adoption event when Val Davis and her daughter Johanna Bedow saw him. Val was looking for a canine companion for her other dog, Jake, who had lost his companion last summer. After getting to know JoJo, talking with volunteers familiar with him and the adoption counselor, Val knew JoJo would be a good fit for her family.
Val was right. “OMGosh!” she writes, “He is awesome! The perfect addition to our family. Jake wasn’t so sure at first, but by Saturday at noon he had worked past his issues. His greatest objection to JoJo was that he thought he had to protect his ‘puppies’ (my grandsons) from JoJo. But once he figured JoJo was no harm he relaxed. (Everyone has been prompted that Jake gets loves first.)
“I’m hardly using treats at all to teach him. He just follows Jake’s lead. JoJo is very intelligent and very responsive. A big love bug. Now I have two love bugs. Jake used to have all this pent up energy — not anymore!”
Val wisely signed JoJo up for puppy socialization classes and writes, “He is smart as a whip. He slept for four hours when we got home!” A tired pup is a good pup.
— Evelyn Dale of Davis is a volunteer and advocate for shelter animal welfare. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is published monthly.