Pets are an important part of many of our seniors’ lives. They are a source of comfort, a barrier against loneliness, and can help keep the mind and body active. But seniors need to recognize where their limitations are in caring for a pet and where they may need help. That is what Seniors Helping Seniors® caregivers are trained to do.
Hot weather is one of the biggest dangers for canine friends, whose ability to cool off is much more limited than that of humans. Cats can also suffer from heatstroke — like dogs, breeds with flat faces are more susceptible since they can’t pant as effectively to cool off.
While heatstroke poses a significant threat for pets — especially if they are overweight, elderly, or have pre-existing conditions — it is not the only risk that warm weather brings. Here are some tips for seniors and their caregivers to keep their best friends out of harm’s way this summer:
- Schedule an early summer visit with your veterinarian. Besides checking for heartworm disease — which is spread through bites from infected mosquitos and requires medication for treatment — a vet visit is a good time to ask about the symptoms of overheating, whether your particular pet is at greater risk, how to prevent it, and what to do if heatstroke occurs.
- Make it a habit to give your pet plenty of fresh, clean water. This is especially important to stay on top of if you have a cat — many do not like drinking water and dehydration puts them at risk of heatstroke. To get your cat to drink more water, you might have to employ a few tricks, like experimenting with bowls, serving wet food, and even serving them flavored water.
- Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. According to PETA, even a quick errand can put your pet at risk when they are left in the car. Animals can sustain brain damage or die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes.
- Keep your pet properly groomed. Brushing your cat more frequently can help prevent problems caused by excessive heat while trimming a dog’s fur — especially double-coated breeds — can help keep them cool in the summer months. But never shave your dog’s fur entirely: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.
- Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool. It’s a myth that all dogs can swim. While some breeds were born to swim, others like Bulldogs and Dachshunds struggle in the water and require a dog life jacket to build confidence. And just because cats have an innate ability to swim does not mean you should not take precautions. Many cats do not like water and can end up panicking if they fall into a pool.
- Ensure open windows have screens on them. Unscreened windows pose a danger to pets, according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. From shattered jaws to broken limbs to death, accidental falls from windows sadly can and do happen but are easily preventable.
- Protect your pet from pesticide poisoning. Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested. Pet owners should use non-toxic products on their lawns and landscaping, avoid grass and other areas potentially treated with pesticides when walking their dogs and wipe down their paws when returning home.
- Do not bring your pet to the barbeque. Alcoholic beverages and foods served at barbeques can cause severe digestive ailments or even be poisonous to pets. Since it is easy to be distracted at a party, pets are safest away from it.
- Do not bring your pet to the Fourth of July celebrations. July 4th parties are another outdoor event that might seem pet-friendly but are not. Loud fireworks can not only trigger a fight-or-flight response in pets, leading to permanent trauma, but they can also cause severe burns if ingested. Experts recommend leaving your furry friend at home during the holiday, ideally in a quiet room.
Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home care provides a variety of services to support seniors so that they can maintain their independence and enjoy life not just in their homes, but also in their neighborhoods. These services include companionship, light housekeeping, cooking, and shopping support, assistance with personal care, dementia care, pet care, yard work, and medication reminders.
ABOUT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS®
Seniors Helping Seniors® stand apart from the competition as the only senior-care company that prioritizes hiring active seniors to provide care services to their less-active counterparts. Seniors Helping Seniors® in-home senior care align caregivers and care recipients based on the abilities and needs of both by offering a wide range of care services.
You can call or text us at 440-935-3848 to ask questions and start service for as little as 2 and 3 hour blocks of time.