As the temperature rises and summer arrives, it is important to take steps in protecting your pet against the heat and humidity. Whether you are out for a walk, riding in the car, or letting him play in the yard, the heat can take a toll on your pet’s health. We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer with the following tips.
Exercising in the Heat
Plan your activities ahead of time if you plan on taking your pet outside with you. On very hot days, limit exercise to the early mornings or evenings when it will be cooler. The heat is not the only factor to watch out for, as levels of high humidity can also affect your pet’s ability to cool off.
Remember to always carry water with you to keep your pet from dehydrating. During activities give water every 15-20 minutes and if your pet begins to pant excessively, give him shade and water right away. Be mindful of your pet, especially those with light-colored coats as these pets can be more susceptible to sunburn.
Your pet’s paws can be sensitive and burn on hot pavements. Even on mild days, the pavement can be hot under the sun. If water steams on the pavement, it is too hot for your pet’s paws. You can also test the heat with your hand. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet!
Fresh Water and Shade
Don’t leave your pet outside alone during the summer for too long. If your pet is going to spend time outside, make sure he has shade and lots of fresh, cool water. In days of extreme heat and humidity, add ice cubes to the water.
Trees and open structures like tarps provide better protection from the sun than doghouses as they allow air to flow through, whereas closed structures such as a doghouse can trap heat inside making it worse for your pet.
During the summer, you may be tempted to shave your pet’s coat to help keep him cool, but we recommend asking your vet first. The layers of your dog’s coat, even if a dark-colored coat, help to prevent overheating and sunburn. Keep your pet cool with regular grooming sessions that keep your pet’s coat clean and free of knots and matting as these can trap heat.
Never leave your pet alone in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach temperatures up to 175°F internally when it is above 80°F outside. Even if it seems mild outside, a car can quickly rise in temperature making it unbearable for your pet. Never leave your pet alone, as “not long” is too long. Leave your pet at home or go places where he can come with you.
Inside the House
If you leave your pet at home alone, be sure he will be comfortable and cool. Leave the air conditioner on for him ⁰and close the drapes. If you don’t have air conditioning, open the windows, and turn on a fan. Cooling mats or cooling fabric pet attire can help your pet stay cool while you are away.
If your pet is outside for lengthy periods in high heat and humidity, he can be at risk for a fatal heatstroke. Unlike us, our furry friends don’t sweat through their skin and rely on panting to keep them cool.
If your pet’s internal temperature rises above 104, he may begin to show signs of heatstroke and if his temperature continues to rise it may lead to organ failure and possible death. Warning signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, drooling, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, vomiting, disorientation, and seizures.
If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pet to a cooler environment as soon as possible and call your veterinarian for further instructions. Once under shade or indoors, cool your pet down with cold water, not freezing, and rinse his mouth to help lower his temperature. Be particularly careful with short-nosed dogs such as bull breeds, boxers, pugs, older dogs, and those that are overweight. These dogs can get heatstroke simply by running around.
The summer is a great time to spend outside with your pet but be sure you take these precautions to help keep him safe and cool. For more information on how to keep your pet cool this summer or to schedule an appointment, contact St. Matthews Animal Clinic today.