Veterinarian offers tips to keep pets safe from summer hazards

Do you have the cutest pup in Tennessee? (Photo: Staff)

Authored By Patrick Warren

Summer and warm weather bring health hazards to cats and dogs, and an area expert offered tips to help residents keep their pets safe.

The extreme heat and humidity of the Chattanooga area can cause heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke in pets if their owners do not take the proper safety measures, Dr. Randy Hammond of the Northgate Animal Hospital said.

“It’s a real issue,” he said. “Shade and fresh, cool water are extremely important.”

According to the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association, if it is warmer than 90 degrees, animals should likely be kept in cooler areas.

Hammond added that pets can even get burns from both the sun and the hot asphalt they might be walking on.

He also warned against a little-known danger to pets—the garden hose.

“We can end up getting some really significant burns for pets and people if you don’t let the water run through the garden hose and so forth first if it’s been laying out in direct sunlight,” he said.

The association also warned against ever leaving a pet in a parked vehicle, because even if the windows are cracked, temperatures can exceed 120 degrees.

Bugs are another hazard for animals, Hammond said.

Using the appropriate flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives is another important safety precaution, to prevent deadly diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

Hammond also said that pet owners should not feed their animals table scraps.

Raisins, garlic, and chocolate are just a few food items that can cause issues. Xylitol, a sweetener found in candies, jams, and some peanut butter is harmful to pets, he also said.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials determines what animal food products are safe for the particular life stage of an animal.

Hammond said it’s best to pick high-quality pet food, which will have a statement from The Association of American Feed Control Officials.

“Not only [are table scraps] not going to be the most nutritional thing for the pets but there are also certain table foods that can be very toxic for the pets,” Hammond said.