How do you mark summer's arrival? Do you stock up on suntan lotion? Buy yourself a new beach bag? Maybe you're thinking about a summer vacation and planning where and when you'll go. You've probably already sent in the deposits and medical forms for your children's camps and signed everyone up for swimming lessons.
But have you given any thought to your four-legged friends?
Take a few minutes and check off these five items for Fido or Fluffy:
1. Hydration. You don't leave for a day at the beach without packing a cooler of snacks and drinks, right? Well, dogs and cats need the same TLC during the hot summer months. If your animals are able to go outside, buy an extra bowl or two for outdoor hydration. If your exercise plans include taking along your dog, make sure you bring along a collapsible bowl or water bottle.
2. Fur care. You make appointments for your highlights and haircut, so make sure you give your pet the same amount of attention. Flea and tick baths and dips are a priority, so make appointments at your vet or groomer now to avoid problems later. And book a trim now for pets with longer hair, and you'll find your dog panting with happiness, not heatstroke.
3. Shade. If your animals spend a lot of time outside, see if your yard has appropriate spots for shade. If not, figure out where you can hang a temporary sheet in a corner of the yard and purchase the equipment you'll need. Or get a real doghouse.
4. Put together a pet-care bin. Throw one in your car and stash one by your front door or mudroom, especially if you live near the beach. Keep a towel, soft brush and collapsible water dish in a canvas bag. That way you'll always be ready for fun, and the wet sandy paws that tend to go with it.
5. Doggy day (and night) care. Going on vacation? Chances are, a lot of others are, too, so line up your pet care now -- not at the last minute. If you're giving the job to a neighbor's daughter, have her do a trial run while you are there so you're comfortable with her knowledge. No matter who's going to be in charge of your pet, make sure the person has critical information about your pet (including appropriate shots and paperwork) before you leave. If you don't have that organized, there are many great pet organizers on the market.
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