MDARD Offers Tips On Keeping Animals Safe This Labor Day

Lansing, MI - As Michiganders prepare to celebrate the last days of summer this Labor Day holiday, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) would like to remind owners of some of the best ways to keep their animals healthy and safe.

"As Michiganders finalize plans for the upcoming long weekend, it is important to plan for the needs of our animals,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM.  “From ensuring they are fully vaccinated to keeping them cool and hydrated, there are many precautions owners can take to keep their animals safe this Labor Day.”

Keep animals safe this holiday by following these six easy tips:

Vax & Relax: Keep animals up to date on routine vaccinations

Vaccinations are central to animals’ preventative care as they can be protected against common diseases they can be exposed to in the environment, such as rabies and distemper. Contact your veterinarian to ensure your animals’ vaccinations are complete or to schedule an appointment.

Let it Flow: Provide unlimited cool, clean, fresh water

Just like people, animals can quickly get dehydrated in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration.

Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding animals people foods

While it may be tempting to toss your animals a few crispy nuggets from the grill, they cannot enjoy all the same foods and treats as we do. Salty, fatty, and highly seasoned foods (like chips, nuts, and meat fat) can cause digestive upset. Also, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to animals; and bones can cause injury and illness.

Know Their Limits: An animal’s ability to tolerate heat varies

An animal’s age, breed, type of coat, and health history can all play a role in their ability to tolerate the heat. Keep an eye on them for signs of heat stress—like increased panting or drooling and being more lethargic.  If they show these signs, it is time to move them to a cooler area immediately.

Also, consider talking to your veterinarian. They will have a greater knowledge of your animal(s) and be able to give more specific guidance on how to best handle them in hot weather.

Look Before They Splash: Avoid harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water

HABs form due to a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, naturally found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. To prevent illness in animals, keep them out of areas with scums or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water, and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. If an animal becomes sick after contact with a suspected HAB, call your local veterinarian right away.

Also, animal illness due to HABs is reportable to MDARD. To report cases, submit a Reportable Disease Form or call 800-292-3939.

Search No More: Make sure animals have proper identification

With all the summer fun and outdoor activities, animals can easily sneak away and become lost. Make sure they have identification tags and/or microchips that are up to date with your current contact information, ensuring a better chance they can be returned home.

Following these tips can help keep your animals safe and healthy through the holiday. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health either now or throughout the year, please talk to your veterinarian.

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