By Dr. Rizal Lopez, Chief Veterinary Officer, SPCA Tampa Bay

Summer is starting to come to a close, but for Floridians, high temperatures will likely continue until October. While many of us enjoy the sunshine, our pets may feel differently. You probably know hot pavement and hot care safety, but here are some lesser known tips to help your pet safely soak up the last of Summer.

  • Do not use human sunscreen or insect repellent on your pets. Ingredients in standard sunscreen can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy if ingested. Most insect repellents contain the ingredient DEET which can cause neurological problems. There are pet-friendly sunscreens available, but you should consult with your veterinarian before using them. If you think your pet is at-risk for sun exposure issues, please speak with us at your next visit.
  • Skip taking your pet on bike rides. Having your dog run alongside your bike can be dangerous for you and your pet. Your attention is split between keeping control of both your dog and your bike, making it more likely that you could have an accident. Because you’re focused on potential road hazards, you may not pick up on cues that your dog is tired or overheated as quickly as you would during a walk.
  • Use caution at the beach. The hot sun, surf and excitement can quickly exhaust your pet. Bring an umbrella or tent for shade and take frequent breaks to cool and hydrate your pet with fresh water. Limit the amount of salt water your pet ingests and watch for signs of trouble, including vomiting, loose stools and fatigue.
  • Learn the signs of heatstroke. Early signs of heatstroke can be subtle, such as your pet seeming less responsive than normal to general commands. Clear symptoms include heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, a dark tongue, a rapid heartbeat, fever, dry mucous, restlessness, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst, thick saliva, and lack of coordination. Pets can exhibit one, some or all of these symptoms during heatstroke. If you think your pet is experiencing heat stroke, rush to the nearest animal emergency clinic.

Dr. Rizal Lopez  headshotDr. Rizal Lopez is Chief Veterinary Officer for SPCA Tampa Bay. He and his staff have completed over 8,000 procedures since opening the St. Pete Veterinary Center in late 2016, and Dr. Lopez, since joining the organization in 2011, has performed over 19,000 spay/neuter procedures for the community.  He held several positions with the organization before taking the lead veterinary role at the center.