Summer in Florida starts around mid-May and continues until September, just a couple of months before the wet season gives way to drier days in November. Tourists, including many pet parents, flock to our state in the summer months to enjoy the sun, sand, and adventure, especially those with school-aged children. In Brevard County, it is a season associated with sunny beaches, outdoor activities, and summer camps.
All seasons have hazards, however, and Florida’s summer season also includes high temperatures, dangerous weather, and venomous creatures. Fortunately, most of these hazards can be mitigated with just a little planning and preparation. Here are a few tips to keep your four-legged family member safely out of harm’s way, without ruining their fun.
Summer here in Brevard county is pretty warm, with average highs somewhere between 85 and 90 degrees throughout the season. This kind of heat can lead to problems in a few different ways, especially if you leave your home unprepared. While most pet-parents are aware of the dangers of leaving animals in locked cars, they may not realize how easy it is for a dog to become dehydrated or develop heatstroke when just out walking or playing in the summer heat.
Ensure that you bring plenty of water for both you and your pet to avoid dehydration, and watch your pooch’s behavior closely. This is particularly important if your dog who has health issues, is a short-nosed breed, or is very young or very old. If your dog starts showing signs of exhaustion, check the color of their tongue and gums; if they are pale or the saliva is stickier than usual, find a shaded or cooler area for your dog, offer them cool (not cold) water, and use cool water on the groin and belly areas to reduce their core temperature.
(Psst… Don’t have time to walk the dog this summer? Space Coast Pet Services will make sure your canine companion stays safe and gets plenty of exercise.)
Not only does the heat from the sun put our pet at risk for dehydration and heatstroke, but it also burns their skin. Your pet’s fur may provide a layer of protection from the sun, but it may not be enough. Animals with thin coats, very short coats, or lightly colored coats are still at risk of developing sunburns, and any companion animal can develop burns on areas with exposed skin, like the belly.
Steps you can take to avoid sunburns include protecting your dog with canine sunscreen, avoiding the outdoors when UV rays are most dangerous (between 10 AM and 3 PM), and finding shaded areas to walk in. Don’t forget about your pet’s paw pads either. Sidewalks and other hard surfaces can get very hot in the summer which can sometimes lead to blistered and bleeding paw pads. As a rule of thumb, check the surface of the ground with the back of your hand; if it is uncomfortable for you, it is certain to be uncomfortable for your companion animal as well.
The summer months in Brevard county are also the stormy months, with thunderstorms lighting up the sky on a regular basis. The majority of people in Florida who are struck by lightning are struck during the summer months, often when out walking. Be aware of the sky before you leave home, increasing winds and rapidly growing clouds often herald an electrical storm, and if you hear thunder, stay indoors until it passes if you can. If you and your pet are caught out in a storm, attempt to find a building to shelter in or near or get in your car if it is available. Avoid sheltering under trees as they may become damaged or fall in the storm, do not lay flat or kneel on the ground, and keep yourself and your pet away from sources of water.
Not only are thunderstorms more prevalent in the summer months, but hurricanes are more likely to hit the coastal areas in the summer as well, usually peaking in between June and November. It is important to stay up to date with the weather information so that you have as much time to prepare as possible in the event of an evacuation.
Make sure that you remember your canine or feline family member in your hurricane preparations; be sure to pack enough food, water, and medication in your emergency kit for each pet to cover a period of at least two weeks. Make sure that their identification and contact information on their tags and their microchips are up-to-date, and exchange contact information with your neighbors, especially other neighbors with pets.
Creepy, Crawly, and Contagious
Weather woes are not the only cause for concern in the summer. The warmer weather often brings out many different types of wild animals, often causing an increase in encounters between wild and domestic animals. Reptiles, insects, and other cold-blooded creatures are particularly active during the summertime, many of which can pose a serious threat to your furbaby’s health. Florida has not only two highly venomous species of spider, the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse, but it also has several varieties of venomous snakes as well, including Cottonmouth Water Moccasins, Coral Snakes, and several varieties of rattlesnake. It is particularly important to watch your pet in tall grass or piles of leaf litter, as both spiders and snakes are commonly found in those environments.
Insects like mosquitos may carry transmit infectious agents or allergens to your pet when they bite, and non-domesticated animals like raccoons, foxes, and feral cats, may harbor dangerous pathogens, such as distemper or rabies. Be certain that you get your pet’s routine vaccinations, including rabies, and avoid letting your pet interact with wild animals.
Using a pet-safe insect repellant will help to avoid insect-borne diseases, but it is important that you do not attempt to use insect repellent that was developed for human use. These repellents can be dangerous for your dog or cat to ingest or inhale and can lead to vomiting, difficulty breathing, and in some cases, even death.
While summer in Florida provides many opportunities to soak in some sun, it also brings wild weather, scorching temperatures, and biting bugs, but that’s no reason to stay cooped up inside. Think ahead when going for an outing with your furry family member, and be sure to bring anything that you might need. Applying a little foresight to your cat or dog’s summer adventures will help to ensure that their summer season is both fun and safe.
Which of these tips will you be using this summer? Let us know in the comments!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, in 2016 she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, bonded, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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