Prepare Your Pet for Summer

(Family Features) From making plans to buying new clothes to filling your time with exhilarating (or relaxing) hobbies, gearing up for summer can be a fun and exciting exercise. With hotter months ahead, don’t forget that your pets need certain preparation in advance of summer also.

With increased dangers like infectious bugs, poisonous plants and more time around water, plus the threat of heat itself, summer is an important time to make sure your pets are ready. Start with a few simple tips that can help ensure safety throughout the summer months.

Keep them hydrated. Dehydration and heatstroke can be fatal to pets, so access to a clean water bowl both inside and outside is critical during summertime. While you’re on the go, be sure to bring water for your pet in a suitable drinking container.

Protect against bugs. Ticks and other pesky bugs can cause headaches when the weather warms and you and your furry friends spend more time outside. Help keep those bugs away with preventative treatments, and be sure to check your pets closely for ticks after you’ve spent time outdoors.

Groom regularly. One of the best ways to keep a dog’s coat healthy and help prevent matting and summertime skin irritation is regular grooming. The right grooming tool can dramatically reduce shedding by removing the undercoat and loose hair without sacrificing the healthy top coat.

Provide skin protection. Just like humans, dogs can experience sunburn and even skin cancer. To prevent sunburn, apply a sunscreen where hair is thin and skin lacks pigment (nose, ears and sensitive areas) every time your dog is outside.

Clean the yard. Before letting dogs, cats or other pets out into the yard to play, check for hazards that can be removed or prevented. Search the yard for poisonous plants, ensure that fences are sturdy and whole, watch the area for possible predators if you own smaller pets and monitor your pet’s outdoor activity.

Check screens. When the temperature is just right, many people love to throw open doors and windows to allow fresh air to rush through screen doors. However, those screens should be checked to ensure that pets can’t push them out or squeeze through a small hole.

Add ID. Whether your pets play outside often or not, it’s a smart investment to add an identification tag to their collars. If they were to ever make a dash for an open gate or find a way outside without attention, an ID can help significantly increase the chances they are returned home safely.

Teach them to swim. Many people increase their time around water during the summer, whether it’s a neighborhood pool, a local pond or a lake. If you plan to bring along a pet, make sure that he or she is comfortable around water and able to swim before partaking in an activity that could potentially frighten your pet.

Make a vacation checklist. Before hitting the road for a fun family getaway, add important pet items to your checklist. Remember that while on a trip, your pet will need food and water, of course, but also may require specific bedding, toys, treats and more.

Summer can provide a great opportunity to spend ample time bonding with pets, but preparing in advance for some of the pitfalls of all of the excitement can ensure that your pet enjoys it just as much as you do. Find more tips and tricks for pet owners at

3 Tips to Help Pets in Need

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For pet owners, their dogs, cats and other pets play an important role in bringing added happiness to their lives. As not every dog and cat is as fortunate, you may be looking for ways to help pets in need.

As many as 6-8 million pets enter shelters every year across North America, according to The Humane Society of the United States. There are numerous ways you can help pets in need, starting with these tips.

Volunteer at Your Local Animal Welfare Organization
Almost every community has at least one animal shelter or rescue group that needs help. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities at shelters and rescue organizations, from office duties and community outreach and education to training, feeding and socializing, so people with every skillset are often able to lend a hand.

Donate Supplies
While pets await adoption, they need access to food, making pet food a significant operating expense for animal welfare organizations. Through PetSmart’s Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program, for every bag of dog or cat food purchased online and at its more than 1,500 stores across North America through the end of the year, the leading pet specialty retailer will donate a meal to a pet in need served by animal welfare organizations and food banks.

“To celebrate 30 years of commitment to helping pets in need, and as a trusted partner to pet parents everywhere, we want to celebrate by giving back even more,” said Eran Cohen, chief customer experience officer at PetSmart. “Throughout 2017, every time pet parents purchase any bag of dog or cat food in our stores or online, they can rest assured they are also helping feed pets in need. When their pets eat, pets in need eat, too.”

Foster or Adopt a Pet
As many animal welfare organizations have dogs or cats not suited for living in a shelter atmosphere, fostering a pet in your home is a simple way to give back without the long-term commitment of pet ownership. Of course, adopting from a rescue or shelter can not only save that pet, but also open a spot in the facility and potentially save another animal as well.

Find more ways to get involved at your local shelter or rescue group, and learn more about the Buy a Bag, Give a Meal program at

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family with dog)