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  • PACC offers tips on keeping your pets safe this summer

    Pet owners want their loved ones to be safe, and the Pima Animal Care Center is here to help with some easy-to-follow tips.

    Excessive heat

    Every year, PACC’s Animal Protection Service (APS) officers respond to hundreds of calls involving pets suffering from heat-related illness and death because they were left outdoors, in a vehicle, or in another situation that put them at risk. 

    “If it’s too hot for you, then it is too hot for your pet,” said Kristen Hassen, Director of Animal Services. “Every year, pets perish because they didn’t have access to shade, water and fresh air. This is entirely preventable.” 

    In most cases, these situations can be avoided by following these easy tips:
    • Dog in poolKeep pets indoors: there’s no better place to avoid the heat. 
    • Keep them hydrated: provide clean, cool drinking water in an easily accessible, spill-proof container. 
    • Provide shade:  Ensure your pet has all-day access to a shaded spot with good air flow. For dogs with longer coats, even shaded spots can be too hot during 100 degree plus temps. 
    • Protect their paws: walk your pet in the early morning or in the evening when the asphalt has cooled down and won’t burn their paws. Place the back of your hand on the ground for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet’s paw pads. 
    • Don’t leave them inside a car: even with the windows cracked, the interior temperature can become deadly within just a couple of minutes.
    • Signs of heat-related illness: lethargic, won’t eat high value treats like chicken, excessive panting or difficult breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums, rapid pulse, muscle tremors, dry nose, nausea, and vomiting. Overweight, geriatric, and short-nosed breeds such as pugs and Persian cats are more prone to overheating and owners should not leave outside unattended in the summer.
    How to have fun with your pet in the heat:
    • baby pool with apple chunks – ‘bobbing for apples’ 
    • frozen toys like kongs, treat dispensers, Ice cubes with frozen snacks, etc.
    • frozen chicken broth in disposable cups
    • teach them tricks 
    • scent games and nose work

    Importance of vaccines

    Vaccines protect pets from deadly diseases like rabies, distemper, parvo and panleukopenia. 

    “Unlike some parts of the country, infectious disease occurs at high rates in our pet community,” said Pima County Chief Veterinarian Jen Wilcox. “However, the worst of these diseases are preventable with safe, inexpensive vaccines.”

    After finishing an initial series, adult dogs and cats need vaccines only every three years to be protected. 

    There are more than 71,000 licensed dogs in Pima County, and every one kept within the boundaries for 30 days or longer is required to be vaccinated for rabies and licensed by the county. The license, which must be renewed annually, is only $20.

    The cost of rabies shots varies, but you can get them for as low as $15 at some clinics. 

    There are several low-cost vaccine clinics around the county. Check out this list from No Kill Pima County. While on hold for now due to the pandemic, PACC does plan to hold several free vaccine and microchip clinics throughout the year. These will be posted to the PACC news webpage and the events section of the PACC Facebook page. 

    Watch the wind

    Tucson can be quite windy, and PACC has responded to many calls dealing with gates being blown open, allowing pets to run out onto Tucson streets. But did you know a simple carabiner can save your pet’s life by keeping gates secure in storms and high wind?

    The carabiner -- a hook-like metal loop with a spring-loaded bar -- stops a gate from blowing open in strong winds by allowing people to loop it through a gate latch. Many even have twistable locks or you can use a regular lock. Some Animal Protection Officers even carry carabiners with them to help pet owners as they respond to calls.

    “I had a dog that got out from its property, so I returned the dog home, only to find out from dispatch that he was out again,” said Animal Protection Services Manager Christina Snow. “I went back, put him back in the yard and waited to see if he would escape again. I waited and sure enough, the DOG was opening the gate. I went out and put a carabiner on the gate and left a note for the owner that their dog can open latches. I didn’t see any further calls from the house after!”

    Make sure your pet has a microchip with an updated phone number, a collar with a license tag and a tag with a current phone number on it. For more tips on what to do before and after your pet gets lost, check out this story on Kitters the Cat.
    Dog on leash

    Retractable leashes can be dangerous

    While these seem like a great way to walk your pet, retractable leashes, also known as Flexi leads, can actually put some dogs in serious danger. Depending on the dog’s personality, the cords on retractable leashes can cause burns, cuts, and even amputations when pulled quickly. When a pet owner loses control over this type of leash, the handle can slam into a dog and hurt them. Because there is no loop to fit around a wrist, and because the cord is stored in the heavy handle, it’s easier to drop one of these leashes. The cords also aren’t very strong, so a strong dog can pull and break one quite easily.

    Pima County law requires pet owners to have their dogs on a 6-foot leash. Many Flexi leads extend too far. Some retractable leashes go as far as 26 feet, potentially allowing the dog to wander off into contact with a person, dog or into traffic. It’s also much harder to control your pet when it is 10, 15 or 26 feet away. Another thing to note, because of its design, a retractable leash actually teaches a dog to pull while on a walk. 

    These types of leashes can be good for certain dogs, but if you find yourself having some trouble with a Flexi lead, the good news is that you can find a regular ol’ leash pretty much anywhere. 

    For more tips on how to keep pets safe, follow Pima Animal Care on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
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