The safety of your pet is a top consideration. Making sure you pet is well fed, well exercised and protected helps lead to a long and happy life together.
Keeping your pet safe is a year-round effort. Here are some seasonal tips to help protect your pet:
Summer Autumn Winter Spring
The heat is on, and the sky is full of fireworks – both on Independence Day and when Mother Nature decides to put on her own light show. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe during the summer.
- Fourth of July: Don't take dogs to places where there may be fireworks. If you plan to be away from home on the holiday, bring your pet inside the house and leave the animal in a quiet, protected room. Animals left outside in the yard may not only attempt to escape, they may also fall prey to possible abuse by misguided individuals.
- Lightning can strike pets just as it can people. Please bring your pets in from outdoors when you start to hear thunder, and keep them indoors until 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder pass.
- If you're at home with a scared dog, don't reinforce its behavior by offering sympathy. Instead, divert its attention by practicing an obedience routine or playing a game.
- Leave a scared cat alone. Don't try to force a feline from its hiding place. The cat will come out when it feels safe.
- It's hurricane season so have a hurricane preparedness plan for your pet! Visit Pinellas County Emergency Management’s pet preparedness page.
- During our hot summer months, keep your pet inside the house, preferably with the air conditioning or fans running.
- If you keep a pet outdoors, you must provide plenty of water and adequate shelter to protect it from the sun or rain. If you provide a structure for shelter, make sure it is grounded in case lighting hits it. Failure to provide water and shelter can result in a citation for cruelty to animals.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car - not even for a few minutes. On a 85 degree day, the temperature in your car with the windows open can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. Your pet could suffer heat stroke. In just 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. Your pet could suffer brain damage or die. With the windows closed, the temperature can reach 160 degrees. Any police officer or animal care officer can cite you for cruelty to animals.
- Know the signs of heatstroke. These include excessive panting, glassy stare, dizziness, vomiting or collapse.
If your pet shows the symptoms of heatstroke, move it into the shade and reduce its temperature by either soaking it with cold water or placing it in an ice bath. If your pet is conscious, give it a small amount of water or allow it to lick ice cubes. Finally, bring your pet to a veterinarian immediately. Don't move the animal until you reduce its temperature.
- Keep the grass cut short and leaves raked up to reduce the chances of ear mite and tick infestations . Ear mites and ticks are more common in summer.
- Remove the fecal matter from the yard as soon as possible. The feces will attract flies which will bite your pet, most commonly in the ears.
- Remove leaf piles, which also attracts ticks, because the moist, cool leaves will attract bufo toads. Bufo or marine toads excrete a toxin that can be fatal to dogs and can cause irritation to humans. Dogs exposed to the toxin will foam at the mouth. If your dog comes in contact with the toad, wash its mouth out with water from side to side. Then immediately seek emergency veterinary treatment.
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Autumn in Florida can still be a hot time, so keeping pets safe from excessive heat is very important. Also, with the little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treating on Halloween, it pays to protect your pet from becoming spooked!
- The best way to keep pets safe is to keep them inside the home, not outside in the yard or with the kids trick-or-treating. Groups of small ghouls and goblins can scare pets causing them to escape from the yard or break the leash. A pet running loose may fall victim to possible abuse by misguided individuals. If you take your pet trick-or-treating, use a short leash to keep it from fighting with other animals or biting strangers.
- Confine pets away from the front door in a separate room. Pets, especially dogs, are easily excitable or threatened by strangers. You open the door many times during the evening, providing lots of chances for Fido or Fluffy to slip outside. Confining dogs will also reduce the chances of them biting strangers.
- Don't share any candy with pets, especially chocolate. Tell your children not to share their candy with the family pet. Candy is toxic for animals and can cause vomiting, restlessness, heart disturbances and even death. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate or other candy that causes discomfort, consult your veterinarian immediately.
- Take extra precautions if you own a black cat by confining it in your house several days before Halloween. This will reduce the chances of someone abducting your black cat. The mythology about black cats and witches can lead people to do strange things to them. Even kids who mean no harm may yell at or chase a black cat, scaring the cat much more than the cat scares them.
- Your companion animal may look very cute in a costume, but be wary of pet costumes that use rubber bands to hold the costume in place. If you mistakenly leave rubber bands on your pet after the costume comes off, they can quickly burrow into the animal's skin.
- Do not dye your pet's fur. This is against the law and could be toxic to the pet.
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Cooler temperatures and the holiday season bring their own challenges of which pet owners should be aware:
- Remember that it can get cold during Florida’s winters. Be sure to provide adequate shelter for your pets if the mercury should drop.
- Do not feed your animals scraps from the holiday table. Some foods, like turkey, contain substances, and bones, that can be fatal to your animal. Other food will disturb the digestive systems of our pets – not an enjoyable experience for either of you. For these reasons, take care to secure the garbage cans, for the sake of your pets and the wildlife that may view your trash as a feast.
- Fasten the Christmas tree to a wall or secure it another way to prevent your cat or dog from knocking it over.
- Keep the Menorah where your pet cannot knock it over.
- Hang breakables, tinsel, and other tempting decorations well out of paw's reach. Tinsel, ribbon, and ornaments are especially dangerous to pets if they chew or swallow them.
- Make sure your pet doesn't play with or chew electric cords. Keep the cords hidden by routing them through PVC pipe.
- Place holiday plants out of pet's reach. Many seasonal plants are poisonous, including mistletoe, holly and poinsettias.
- Some chemicals that extend the life of trees are poisonous. Cover the treated area with a section of window screen.
- Avoid toys with small parts or those made of soft materials that pets can chew up and swallow.
- Avoid hard plastic dog bones. They can splinter or shed fragments that dogs swallow. Nylon-type chews don’t splinter and last longer.
- Don't put catnip or other edibles in hanging stockings (especially if they're by the fire). Better stocking stuffers are county license tags, collars, leashes, beds and bowls.
- Don't give alcohol to pets. While adult humans have the body mass to adjust to alcohol's effects, pets don't. Any alcohol given to pets is dangerous and too much can be fatal.
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As the weather starts to warm, pet owners should turn their attention to the dangers posed by heat and the return of fleas and ticks.
- Leaving your pet inside a parked vehicle on a hot, summer is dangerous and illegal. The temperature can rise rapidly after just a few minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does little to alleviate the heat.
- If you keep a pet outdoors, you must provide plenty of water and adequate shelter to protect it from the sun or rain.
- Keep the grass cut short to reduce the chances of ear mite and tick infestations. Ear mites and ticks are more common in summer.
- Clean your pet’s waste from the yard as soon as possible. It will attract flies that will bite your pet, most commonly in the ears.
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