August 2, 2016 – With the recent release of Pokemon Go, many people are using the game as an opportunity to take their dogs for walks. Shelters are even getting in on the act, asking Pokemon Go players to volunteer as dog walkers.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said it strongly encourages people to get outdoors and spend time with their dogs, as it’s a great way to bond with pets and for both of you to stay healthy. However, the AVMA would like to remind pet owners of some basic safety tips to keep their dogs safe while out capturing, battling, and training Pokemon:

  1. Start slowly: If you typically take your dog for 15 minute walks, don’t automatically assume they’ll be up for a 90 minute excursion. Suddenly and significantly increasing the length of your dog’s walk could cause your dog discomfort. Try gradually increasing the length and distance of your walks so your pet can adjust. Watch for signs of a problem, such as a limp, sudden stopping, change in attitude, laboured breathing or excessive panting. If you notice any of these signs, take a break, and call your veterinarian if the problems persist;
  2. Don’t get beat by the heat: Spending too much time out under the hot summer sun can put your pet in danger of dehydration, burned paws from hot surfaces, even sunburn. Make sure your pet has access to shade and water. Avoid hot surfaces, such as asphalt, that can burn your pet’s paws, and ask your veterinarian if your dog would benefit from a warm-weather haircut or sunscreen. If possible, schedule walks for early in the day or evening to avoid periods of intense sun and UV exposure. Learn to recognise the signs of heat stress, and seek immediate veterinary care for your pet if you observed any signs of a problem;
  3. Socialise safely: One of the great features of Pokemon Go is how it encourages people to socialise, and that can be wonderful for dogs as well. However, make sure your dogs are leashed when meeting other dogs, and supervise their encounters to ensure the dogs are being friendly and aren’t in danger of becoming aggressive;
  4. Prevent parasites: More time outdoors and more encounters means increased exposure to external parasites and disease. Protect your dogs from these threats by making sure they are properly vaccinated and protected against fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Talk with your veterinarian about the right disease-prevention plan for your dog;
  5. Always be aware: Don’t get so lost in your game that you lose sight of your surroundings and potential threats to your dog’s  – and your – safety. Keep your dog leashed and close while crossing streets or encountering other pedestrians, and make sure your dog doesn’t eat or get into things that could be toxic or dangerous to your pet.

For more tips on designing safe walks for your pets, visit the AVMA’s website:https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Walking-with-Your-Pet.aspx.

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 88,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. Visit www.avma.org for more information.

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