Warmer weather brings with it special conditions and situations for pet owners to protect the health and welfare of their dogs and cats.
Dr. Donna Alexander, administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, issued a number of warm weather-related tips for dog and cat owners. Heat and fireworks that accompany summer months can create special problems for pets. Summertime means that children spend more time outdoors, and interaction between pets and children should be closely monitored. Pet owners should also be vigilant to prevent contact between their dogs or cars and wildlife.
“Dogs should always be leashed and closely supervised when in public areas, and cats should not be allowed to roam free. And all dogs and cats should be up to date in their rabies vaccines,” she said.
Dr. Alexander also announced the 2014 schedule for dozens of low-cost rabies and microchip clinics that will be held at sites throughout Cook County. A list of the clinic dates and locations can be found on the Department of Animal and Rabies Control website.
Important seasonal recommendations and precautions include:
Dogs often instinctively chase children who are running, on bicycles or on skateboards. Dog owners should make sure that their pet is on a strong leash or properly secured behind an impenetrable fencing system over which his/her head cannot extend. The greatest number of bites by dogs to children occurs during the summer months.
Dogs should not be left in cars if the ambient temperature exceeds 78 degrees even if the windows are left open. The temperature in a car can go from 78 degrees to 115 degrees in 15 minutes even with windows open.
Water bowls must be filled more than once a day. Water evaporates in high heat so animal water bowls, whether inside or outside, must be refilled often.
Dogs must be provided with shelter against the sun if they are left outside. All animals tethered outside must be provided housing, water and food.
The Fourth of July is especially stressful for animals. Fireworks can cause even the best-trained dog to panic. If you are aware of your animal's anxiety, seek veterinary advice on helping your pet to cope prior to July 4. Provide a cool, dark space for your anxious pet and soothing noises such as a radio to counteract the sporadic noise of the fireworks.
Household cats should be vaccinated against rabies and should not be allowed to free roam. Their chances of having interaction with wildlife are three times greater than dogs.
Wildlife is the major source of rabies and the wildlife population has been increasing. The Department is tracking the progression of skunk rabies along the Mississippi River and is watchful for any cases that may occur in Illinois. Bats remain the most prolific source of rabies in Illinois. If you see a bat inside of your home, contact local municipal authorities or, if you live in an unincorporated area, Cook County Animal Control at (708) 974-6140.
Be vigilant that your pet does not pick up food off the ground. People will often discard food products that may be harmful to pets along their normal walking route. Keep dogs on short lead to prevent them from eating such things as chicken bones or corn cobs which could be deadly.
The County’s dozens of rabies clinics offer pet owners a convenient and low-cost way to ensure the health of their animals. “The clinics address a serious public health issue,” Dr. Alexander said. “If your dog or cat is bitten by a rabid animal, this shot will prevent your pet from getting rabies and passing it on to other animals or to humans.” Having a microchip implanted in a household pet significantly increases the chance that it can be reunited with its owner if it is ever lost or stolen, she added.
The clinics offer a one-year rabies shot for $7 and a three-year rabies shot for $21. Insertion of a microchip is $10. Only cash or checks are accepted, no credit or debit cards. The rates represent a substantial discount from what is normally charged for these services at private veterinarians. The rabies shot is the only vaccine that will be provided at the clinics.
Since 2006, Cook County’s mobile clinics have provided rabies vaccinations to almost 27,000 animals.
Additional information about the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control can be found on the Department’s website.