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Top Summer Concerns for Small pets

While you're probably aware of the precautions necessary to protect dogs and cats during the summer months, you might not be as familiar with the best ways to protect a small pet (such as a rabbit, guinea pig, mouse, hamster, gerbil, rat, ferret or chinchilla) when hot weather strikes. How can you be sure that your small pet stays safe and healthy during the warmest period of the year?

Watch the weather

Heat can have a major effect on small pets, especially during the summer months. The increased temperatures and higher humidity levels can be problematic, and small pets can easily become overheated during periods of warm weather. Watch your pet closely for any signs of heatstroke (such as increased respiration, lethargy and red gums or tongue) and obtain immediate veterinary assistance if your pet exhibits symptoms. If you need to provide emergency treatment for your pet, the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests moving your pet to a shaded location.
Frozen water bottles provide an effective way to keep your bunny, guinea pig, chinchilla or ferret cool and comfortable during hot spells. Simply pop a bottle in the freezer and then transfer the frozen bottle to your pet's abode. They'll appreciate having the cold object to sit beside or lie next to, and you can keep replacement bottles in the freezer to ensure that your pet will have regular access to cool relief during hot weather.

Stay home, stay safe

According to the Humane Society of the United States, pets—including small pets—should never be left unattended in a vehicle on a warm or sunny day. They caution that the temperature in a vehicle can increase at a rapid rate and your pet could be in serious danger in an extremely short period of time. If you're traveling with your pet, make sure to take proper precautions to keep them cool, and never leave them alone in a vehicle.
On a similar note, always be sure to keep your pet's habitat out of direct sunlight. This is vital to the safety of your pet, so be sure to diligently watch where the sun hits the room during various parts of the day and select a location that is out of direct sunlight. While fans and air conditioning units can prove beneficial for effectively cooling a room, always make sure that cold air is not blowing directly on your pet.

Beware of bugs

When you think of fleas and ticks, you might automatically think of dogs and cats, but small pets can be susceptible to external parasites as well. If you regularly venture outdoors with your pet, or if you suspect that your pet may have been exposed to parasites, seek the advice of a veterinarian to establish a plan of prevention and treatment that is specially adapted to your pet's individual needs. Remember, small pets vary greatly in size and characteristics, and the appropriate treatment plan for a ferret may be quite different than the appropriate treatment plan for a hamster.

Keep exercise to a minimum

Help your pet beat the heat by restricting strenuous exercise that could cause them to become overheated. For example, if you regularly take your rabbit outdoors for a walk, you'll want to avoid this practice during periods of hot weather, or schedule your walks for early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler.

Keep them hydrated

Water is of unparalleled importance to your pet's overall health and well-being, but it's even more important during the warm summer months. Be sure that your pet has access to fresh, cool water at all times, and refresh the water frequently to encourage your pet to drink. By helping your pet stay hydrated, you'll help them to avoid succumbing to heat-related problems.