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Outdoor Pet Safety Tips

As temperatures rise and pet parents spend more time outdoors, pets should be kept under an especially watchful eye. Taking the right precautions can reduce the risk of heatstroke, prevent a pet from getting lost or prevent a pest infestation or pet injury.

Pets in hot weather
A pet's outdoor time should be limited during extreme heat or humidity. Make sure whenever your pet is outside, there's easy access to shade or shelter and lots of fresh water. Be aware that scorching hot asphalt can be dangerous for paw pads so it's a good idea to limit walks to the early morning and dusk.

Keeping pets hydrated
A key to making sure you don't have a dehydrated pet is to keep fresh water available at all times. You may not see your pet drinking water very often, but that's all the more reason why it should be readily available when they do decide it's time to stop for a drink.

Sunburn prevention
Areas on your pet where the skin is thin and there is little to no hair or fur need a little extra attention when out in the sun. Apply pet-safe sunscreen to the ears, nose and anywhere else they have bare skin or thin fur.

The car is hotter than you think
The few minutes it takes to run an errand can be extremely stressful for a pet left in the car. On an 85ºF day, the temperature inside the car can jump to 102ºF in just 10 minutes. On hotter days, temperatures can skyrocket to over 150ºF. This is why it can be a real danger that should be avoided. Never leave your pet unattended in a car, even with the windows down.

Water safety
The first rule of pet water safety is to always supervise pets closely when they're near a pool or body of water. Your pet may try to drink the water they're swimming in, so be sure to have fresh drinking water available to discourage the habit. Pool water can be especially dangerous to drink because of the chlorine. A pet life jacket should be worn in case your pet develops a cramp. Finally, when swim time is over, thoroughly rinse and dry your pet's coat to remove dirt, bacteria and chlorine that can cause irritation.

Backyard safety
Be sure your backyard is free of pests, hazardous plants, chemical lawn treatments or loose garden tools. Also, check that the fence has no openings and that all gates are secure.

Poisonous hazards to keep an eye out for:

  • Animal toxins – toads, insects, spiders, snakes, scorpions or other pests
  • Blue-green algae in ponds
  • Citronella candles
  • Cocoa mulch
  • Compost piles
  • Fertilizers
  • Flea products
  • Some plants and plant bulbs
  • Swimming-pool treatment supplies
  • Insecticides containing methomyl
  • Slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde

Hold on to that leash
It may be tempting to let a pet off the leash, but pet parents can't control how their pets will respond to distractions. If your pet is outside of a secured area, it's best to keep the leash on—and in many places it's also the law.

Current pet ID tags
Pets spend more time outdoors with pet parents during summer months. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in the number of lost pets, especially on the Fourth of July when more pets are lost than any other day of the year. If your pet is sensitive to loud noises, it's best to keep them safely inside. This year, be sure your pet's ID tags are up-to-date. If your pet hasn't been microchipped, now would be a great time to ensure a speedy reunion if your pet does get lost.

Small animals
Small pets are more vulnerable to heat and other outdoor hazards and should never be left outside unattended. Small pets such as ferrets, rabbits or guinea pigs are also susceptible to pests so be sure to check them for fleas & ticks or use a small animal flea & tick spray or preventative.

Pet first aid
Despite taking the necessary precautions, pet parents could still find themselves facing a pet emergency. Organizations like The American Red Cross offer pet first aid classes that could help you save your pet's life in the event of an emergency. Read more tips to keep your dogs and cats cool, comfortable and safe when out and about.