Plan now to protect your pet this summer

By DR. FRED SELF / Guest Columnist

Every year at this time I feel the need to get up on a soapbox.

Although I always consider myself opinionated, I seem to expound on my opinions more when my patients’ welfare is concerned. I find that the coming of summer lends itself to an open air, soapbox-like discussion. That is why I will take this opportunity to discuss several important things to remember to best prepare pets for the summer.

If you have never spent the day outside in the Alabama summer, you may have a hard time appreciating the effects of the annual increase in temperature. Put another way, if you spend the day outside in the summer you will be uncomfortably hot. In just a few minutes of being outside you will start looking for something cold to drink.

In the same way, our pets will be uncomfortable after being outside for just a little while. They have less chance to provide themselves with cold liquids. That is why it is important that we provide them with plenty of fresh water.

There is no such thing as too much water. If you already have one bowl available for your pets when summer comes add a second for good measure.

The next item worthy of shouting about is shade. When we work outside and get hot, we look for a tree or awning to get under to help block the sun. Because we design and landscape our pets’ environment, any shade they find is present because we put it there.

We are responsible for our pets being able to get out of the sunlight. The more shade they have, the healthier our pets.

Along with fresh water and plenty of shade, hair coat or lack of it is important. Long-haired pets and pets with thick coats are not well adapted to the summers in Alabama. For those pets it is important to clip their hair at least once for the summer. It is said by some that a thick hair coat acts as insulation. That is true. However, the insulation only maintains the body heat. It does act as a cooling mechanism.

To understand how much heat fur holds in, put on your favorite coat the next time the temperature is over 73 degrees and run around the outside of the house three times.

To ensure your pet has a good summer, remember to provide it with plenty of fresh water and shade and keep its hair cut short.

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach them at 669-7717.