GREAT FALLS — As summer is just under a week way, many people will be out and about with their pets, but animal-welfare advocate say there are some things you need to consider when it comes to pet safety.
Laramie Smovir, volunteer coordinator for the Great Falls Animal Shelter, said, "There's some things you need to be aware of when we're looking at the summer heat with specifically dogs, but cats as well. The first thing is temperature, obviously as the weather gets warmer, the dogs are going to get warmer when they are out and about, so you want to make sure that if you're going to take your dog out for a walk, you want to do it before the sun really gets up or after the sun starts to set, so when it's cooler out. If you take them out for a walk in the middle of the day, you're more likely to expose your animal to heatstroke."
Dogs suffering from heatstroke can have elevated breathing rates, dry or sticky gums, abnormal gum color, bruising in the gums, and may even appear lethargic or disoriented, and can also have seizures.
Smovir added, "The sun, many people don't realize, can cause sunburn on dogs. So, if you have a dog that has a pink nose, make sure to slather it with a pet-friendly sunscreen. You want to make sure the pets are going to stay well hydrated during the day. And you want to think about grooming. Many people during the summer shave their pets because they think its cooler for them, when in fact, it can be harmful for them. Those coats are there and made to protect them from the sun, and they have their own cooling system, so by shaving your animal, you can actually cause more damage than help. In that situation, we suggest contacting a professional groomer and they'll be able to help get that dog ready for the summer."
Smovir also added the fact that many people don't pay attention to the types of plants that animals can be exposed to when outside.
Smovir said, "the other thing people don't realize is the different plants that we have in Montana that can potentially be poisonous to your animal. Even some of the plants that can be planted in your front yard, such as hollyhocks. You want to make sure you know what plants you are planting, and which ones can be poisonous to your animal. so that you can make sure they aren't eating the plants out of the garden.
Poisonous plants in Montana: https://animalrangeextension.montana.edu/beef/documents/NutrConf2012-7-TonyKnightSlides.pdf
Maclean-Cameron Animal Shelter marketing manager Misha John says that pet owners should be on high alert, especially as Independence Day approaches.
John stated, "Another thing to think about is to make sure your pet is comfortable, not just from the heat, but making sure they are able to relax in the midst of increased social interactions when they're hearing lots of voices, lots of fireworks. It can be very anxiety-inducing for a lot of pets, so some simple things to keep your pets comfortable during the 4th of July include keeping them inside, safe and locked in, maybe turning up music or the TV.
She added, "There are also many different forms of calming aids that can be ingested or even worn by the pet, and that can help decrease their stress during that time as well."
Misha mentioned that every pet is different, and if there are any concerns, to talk to your veterinarian.