As Americans prepare to celebrate the last days of summer this Labor Day holiday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) would like to remind owners of some of the best ways to keep their animals healthy and safe.
“When making any holiday plans, it is important not to overlook the needs of our animals,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “From ensuring that they are fully vaccinated to making sure they are cool and comfortable when the heat index is high or the air quality is poor, there are many precautions owners can take to keep their animals safe this Labor Day.”
Keep animals safe this holiday by following these six easy tips:
- Vax & Relax: Keep animals up to date on routine vaccinations – Vaccinations are central to animals’ preventative care as the vaccines can protect animals against common diseases, such as rabies and distemper. Contact your veterinarian to ensure your animals’ vaccinations are complete and/or to schedule an appointment.
- Let it Flow: Provide unlimited cool, clean, fresh water – Just like people, animals can quickly get parched in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.
- Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding animals people foods – While it may be tempting to toss your animals a few crispy nuggets from the grill, they cannot enjoy all the same foods and treats as we do. Salty, fatty and/or highly seasoned foods (like chips, nuts and meat fat) can cause digestive upset. Also, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to animals; bones can cause injury and illness as well.
- Know Their Limits: An animal’s ability to tolerate heat varies – An animal’s age, breed, type of coat and health history can all play a role in their ability to tolerate the heat. Keep an eye on them for signs of heat stress – like increased panting or drooling and being more lethargic. If they are showing these signs, it’s time to immediately move them to a cooler area.
Also, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will have a greater knowledge of your animal(s) and be able to give more specific guidance on how to best handle them in hot weather.
- Look Before They Splash: Avoid harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water – HABs form due to a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are naturally found in lakes, rivers and ponds. To prevent illness in animals, keep them out of areas with scums or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. If an animal becomes sick after contact with a suspected HAB, call your vet right away.
- Search No More: Make sure animals have proper identification – With all the summer fun and outdoor activities, it can be easy for animals to sneak away and become lost. Make sure they have identification tags and/or microchips that are up to date with your current contact information, ensuring a better chance they can be returned home.
These tips can help keep your animals safe and healthy throughout the holiday. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health now or throughout the year, talk to your veterinarian.