It's finally Summer! For many of us, that means outings, camping, outdoor fun and vacations. For our pets, it can mean dealing with the added stress of heat and humidity. Here are some ways to help keep your pet safe and healthy this summer.

Never leave your pet in the car

Although it may seem comfortable outside, the sun can raise the temperature in your car to over 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows open.

It's not the heat, it's the humidity

Dogs and cats remove most of their body heat through panting. A high humidity index directly lowers their ability to cool by panting thus leading to a greater risk of heatstroke.

Lazy days of summer

Your pet cannot tolerate what might seem like "ordinary" exercise levels on hot and humid days. Take it easy and do not push your pet. Actively try to avoid the hot midday sun, and be sure to provide plenty of water and shade for your pets while they're enjoying the summer months outside.

Know the signs of heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, anxiety, confusion, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and collapse. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, have someone else call the hospital while you immediately douse your pet with cool (not cold) water, rubbing it into the fur to make contact with the skin. Bring your pet into the nearest veterinary hospital immediately.

Keeping cool in the water

Make sure your pet knows how to get in and out of a pool. Boat owners should make sure pets understand how to get back into a boat should the need arise. Practice "rescuing" your pet several times so that they do not panic if they do take an accidental swim.

Protect your pet from pests and unwanted chemicals

Fleas and ticks abound during the summer, so ask your veterinarian about the best parasite preventives for your pet. In and around the home, fertilizers and lawn and garden pest control products are common. Some are extremely toxic if your pet ingests them. Always know what chemicals you are using and please respect the manufacturer’s warnings on restricting exposure to all pets and children after any application.

Cookouts aren't just for people, pets are present too

But remember that the food and drinks offered to guests at a cookout may be poisonous to a pet. Avoid feeding pet's raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, products with the artificial sweetener xylitol and more. For more information, please read People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets on the ASPCA's website.

We hope you have a great summer! If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call and ask for advice.