Hot summer weather is perfect for enjoying the backyard along with your pet. Given the rising temperatures, it is important to remember that heat stroke not only affects humans, but animals, too.
Heat stroke can occur surprisingly fast, even when animals are left in the heat for only short periods of time. Signs of heat stroke include:
- rapid panting;
- warm, dry skin;
- bright red gums;
- vomiting; and
- an anxious expression or ‘staring’ appearance.
Prevention is the best treatment, so, be sure to provide your pet with access to a shaded area and plenty of drinking water. Also, never leave your animals unattended in the yard or in cars (even with the windows rolled down).
If your pet does develop heat stroke, you must reduce its body temperature quickly. The most effective way to do this is immediate immersion in a cold water bath. Hosing a pet down with a garden hose can also work nicely. Ice packs should not be used, as they could actually overcool the animal. Massage your pet’s skin gently and flex its legs frequently to encourage blood circulation. While this is being done, transport the pet to a veterinary hospital as quickly as possible.
No matter how many preventative measures you take, it is important to keep in mind that pet-related accidents can still happen. Given the potential dangers present throughout your backyard, it is vital to be prepared in case incidents or injuries occur.
In these cases, a pet first-aid kit can come in very handy. Of course, the exact contents of your kit will differ, depending on what type of pets you have—for example, first-aid supplies for large dogs will differ from those for cats, as each will need different sized bandages and other necessities. That said, the basic components of all pet first-aid kits are generally the same.
Your pharmacy and/or veterinarian will have all of the supplies you’ll need. Your local veterinary hospital may even have a sample kit to show you or a specific kit list they would recommend for your pet. No matter the contents, be sure to select a storage container that allows you to neatly organize your supplies, so they will be easy to find and access in an emergency. A fisherman’s tackle box or tool organizer will do nicely. Also, be sure to keep the kit out of reach of children and check it regularly for expired or depleted supplies.
Enjoying your backyard isn’t limited to just people—odds are your four-legged family members want to get out and enjoy the nice weather just as much as you do. By taking a few simple precautions, pet owners can make their outdoor spaces just as safe for Fido and Fluffy as they are for other family and friends.