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July 10, 2013

Protect furry friends from summer's fury

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Protect furry friends from summer's fury
Patti Kubota, of Troy, holds Q.T., a shih-poo, introducing him to Buddy, a golden retriever, and Chloe, a puggle, at the Madison Heights dog park.

Warmer weather isn’t an excuse to take a summer vacation from protecting your cat or dog from danger, according to local animal welfare experts.

According to Ryan McTigue, spokes-man for the Michigan Humane Society, one of the biggest things to watch out for during the summer is the heat’s effects on your pet.

When an animal exercises or plays in hot weather, it also elevates its risks for heat stroke, which can cause brain damage and death.

McTigue said a pet can overheat outdoors, inside a car or even inside the home. Although humans can cool off by perspiring, dogs and cats use their tongues to pant, but that can be less effective in hot weather, he said.

“If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, use fans to keep the air circulating,” he said. “And keep pets in a cooler area of the house, such as the basement, during the hottest part of the day.”

The Michigan Humane Society also suggests that owners should keep their animals indoors when it is hot or humid. When a pet is outdoors, it’s essential to keep a shady spot where it can seek respite from the sun; also keep an abundant supply of water nearby for replenishment, McTigue said.

In cases when a dog or cat appears to be overcome by the heat, he said, the pet should be placed in shallow, cool water, and a vet should be alerted at once.

McTigue said the MHS suggests keeping cats indoors unless closely supervised, and he stressed the importance of watching dogs while they play in the yard. Dangerous objects should be removed from the yard, and dogs should be kept away from lawn fertilizers, cocoa mulch or chemicals, which can be hazardous to their health.

“Follow the instructions carefully for fertilizers, and weed and feed products, or avoid them altogether whenever possible,” he said.

Supervision may also prevent the great outdoors from tempting Fido to escape and get lost. McTigue said it’s best to give your pets a collar with a visible ID tag and, when necessary, a license. And it’s a good idea to get them micro-chipped, too, he said.

“Microchipping is relatively inexpensive and is a permanent form of identification that can’t be altered,” he said. “The small investment is well worth the peace of mind.”

Deborah Sanford, office manager at Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights, said dogs and cats should stay on their vaccination regimens so they are not at risk of contracting dangerous illnesses while outdoors.

She said canines should be vaccinated for rabies, parvovirus, bordetella, leptospirosis and distemper. For cats, it’s important to vaccinate them against feline leukemia, rabies and panleukopenia, she said.

Sanford recommended that dogs and cats stay away from fireworks, especially if loud sounds like thunderstorms are known to scare them.

“Obviously, the pet is the most comfortable in a house, (rather) than being outside exposed to fireworks,” she said. “Indoors is the best bet for the pet.”

Learn more about the Michigan Humane Society at www.michiganhumane.org or by calling (866) 648-6263. Learn more about Madison Veterinary Hospital in Madison Heights at www.madisonvethospital.com or at (248) 399-5225.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.