September 13, 2023
By: Morgan McKenzie
Published: June 24, 2022
A local animal expert is advising owners to not “fluff up” by taking preventive methods to protect their pets from the common dangers that come with the summer months.
From overexposure to heat, bugs that spread disease to anxiety from loud noises, those who work in the field of animals encourage pet owners to plan ahead and keep life-saving tips in mind.
Sarah Morrill, director of marketing and development at the Weld County Humane Society, said the most frequent threat to pets in the summer is overheating and heatstroke.
In 2021, 59 dogs and other animal companions reportedly died from heat-related causes, according to data from PETA.
The initial signs of overheating — excessive panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, increased heart rate and slight weakness — require pet owners to remove their animals from the heat immediately.
If these signs go unnoticed, an animal may collapse, have seizures and begin throwing up or having diarrhea, Morrill said. Extreme signs call for people to take their pets to an emergency room.
To avoid the threats that come from the hotter temperatures, Morrill advises people to follow these preventive tips:
“Overheating can happen fast and without looking for the signs, it can be life-threatening to our animals,” Morrill said. “There are so many fun summer activities and we want to take our pets everywhere. The best intentions though could be detrimental to our animals’ health due to the heat.”
In northern Colorado, pets are also at a high risk of being bit by ticks and mosquitos, which can lead to the spread of diseases such as Lyme disease and heartworms.
Colorado and the West are expecting a higher number of ticks and mosquitos this year, Morrill said, citing predictions from the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
“We see more bugs who carry diseases that can spread to our furry friends,” Morrill said. “One mosquito could mean months of difficult heartworm treatment.”
As the state has a higher risk of Lyme disease from ticks and heartworms from mosquitos, Morrill said prevention is the best solution to the summer threat. Pets should be placed on both flea and tick preventatives, as well as heartworm preventatives.
“We recommend going to your vet for a pre-summer checkup to get your furry friends a heartworm test if they are not on year-round preventive before starting any preventative measures for heartworms,” Morrill said.
Summertime fun also comes with commotion as thunderstorms, outdoor celebrations and fireworks bring loud noises that create safety issues for people’s four-legged friends.
Each year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center indicated receiving an increase in calls about pets affected by the sounds of fireworks.
Owners of pets with heightened fears or anxieties of loud noises should put some preventive methods into place before sounds like fireworks or thunderstorms begin. ASPCA suggests:
Overall, one in five pets goes missing after being scared by loud noises, the animal organization reported. After fireworks on July 4, Morril said most communities have a large uptick in strays, which is a contributing factor to the explosion of animals who enter shelter doors during the summer.
Summer spikes for shelters
In Febuary 2019, U.S. animal shelters took in 234,000 pets, according to Shelter Animals Count. A few months later, in May, data showed over 363,000 animals entered shelters. Many shelters can attest to witnessing a surge since summertime is the peak season for animals entering shelters.
Simultaneously, the peak comes with a decline in adoption for shelters across the country and state, including the Denver Animal Shelter, which faced capacity issues and reduced the adoption fee to $5 last month as an attempt to find animals homes.
The Dumb Friends League, a Colorado nonprofit that rescues animals, has locations in Denver, Castle Rock and Alamosa facing a maximum capacity of animals. As of April, all three shelters reported an extraordinary high population of shelter dogs, according to a Rocky Mountain PBS story.
One reason attributed to the lack of pet adoptions in the summer months can be linked to potential adopters waiting to make the commitment of a new family member until after their summer travels, according to Morrill.
This summer, Morrill said the Humane Society of Weld County is happy to report the increase in intakes at the shelter is matching the growth seen throughout the county.
Another development in the world of animal shelters is larger dog adoptions have slowed down across the United States, but the Morrill indicated it is too early to tell how that will impact the Humane Society of Weld County.
If anyone is unable to adopt, Morrill encourages people in the community to foster during the summer months to expand services and help animals who are spending more prolonged time in the program.
“Right now, 54% of our animals are in loving foster homes,” Morrill said. “As Weld County grows, the number of animals who need us grows. Our building, though, does not grow.”
If anyone is interested in adopting or fostering animals, go to https://www.weldcountyhumane.org/.
September 13, 2023
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