Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Spring and Summer Dos and Don'ts

Pet Column for the week of March 31, 1997

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
By Joseph Hahn
Information Specialist

Spring is in the air and summer is right behind it. At this time of year, our thoughts turn to
shedding our winter clothing, putting on a pair of shorts, and kicking back outside. Follow
these safety tips to make this season safe and enjoyable for you and your pet.

"First on the list of things not to do is to have your dog ride in the back of an open pick-up
truck," says Dr. Sheila McCullough, veterinarian and director of the Emergency Service and
Intensive Care Unit at the University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital at
Urbana. "Deaths and injuries resulting from transporting dogs this way are completely

Another warm weather "don't" is to put your dog at risk of heat stroke. Heat stroke is
caused by excessive heat and humidity combined with an inadequate water supply. Dogs
can quickly overheat, especially if they have a dark or heavy coat. Your dog may begin to
drink more water as the temperature rises, so it's important to keep clean, fresh water
available at all times. If overheating occurs, hosing down your pet with cool water and
offering cold water to drink are the first steps in treating this problem. However, you should
never force water into your dog; your dog will drink when ready.

"Cats are not immune to problems in warmer weather. They are especially prone to
high-rise syndrome," says Dr. McCullough. "This happens when cats decide to explore the
outside world by crawling out open windows that do not have screens. The cats may fall
from great distances and severely injure themselves." She recommends making sure all open
windows have screens securely in place. There are even kitty window boxes, which offer a
safe alternative while allowing your cat access to the nice weather.

Now for the "dos." If you are feeling the urge to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, do
bring your pet with you. Everyone knows how to take a dog along for a walk outside, but
did you know your cat can come along as well? There are harnesses and leashes available
for cats of all sizes. Some cats do not walk well on leashes, but almost all of them will enjoy
being outside with you, even if it's just sitting in the park. Do keep all pets on a leash when
they are outside. Being hit by a car is serious danger for animals off-lead.

"Many owners schedule the annual checkup with a veterinarian for spring," says Dr.
McCullough. "That helps them stay on track with the yearly heartworm check, stool check,
and vaccinations as well as keeping up with a heartworm prevention program."

Having fun in the spring and summer with your pet is safe and easy to do if you follow these
simple guidelines and use common sense. If you would like further information, contact your
local veterinarian.