Beat the Heat! How to Keep Your Pet Cool
When the scorching summer temperatures rise, people can take a splash in the pool, crank the air conditioner, or enjoy a refreshing summer treat to cool down; however, it’s not always as simple for our pets. It can be challenging to know when our pets are overheated, and how we, as their caring owners, can help. This post will outline how to keep your pet cool and detail warning signs of dehydration and heat stroke. Here’s to a summer of happy and healthy pets!
Summer Day Do’s to Keep Your Pet Cool
Shade & Water
You and your family are your pet’s best friends, but shade and water are a close second during summer months. Providing your pet with a shady spot and lots of water is an easy, effective way to protect them from the perils of the season, like overheating and dehydration. It doesn’t take long for a pet to get dehydrated when it’s hot, so be sure to give them ample amounts of cold, clean water. If you’re leaving your home with your dog, bring water and a portable bowl.
Pay Extra Attention to At-Risk Pets
Pets that are older, overweight, or have heart/lung disease are susceptible to heat stroke. Pets with flat faces (such as Persian cats and pugs) or those with thicker coats are more prone to overheating. To help prevent heat stroke, it is essential to keep at-risk pets out of the heat and indoors where it is cooler.
Fur doesn’t protect dogs from UV rays! Stock up on sunscreen made for dogs and apply before sun exposure. The most important spots to get are the areas with the least amount of fur. Remember to reapply after four hours (or following a swim), and make sure to monitor your dog after applying sunscreen — they’re known to lick it off!
Protect Their Paws
Pet paws aren’t made for toasty surfaces like asphalt and cement. These surfaces are dangerous as they can easily lead to scorched paws and overheating. If you are transporting your pet in a truck, keep them out of the back. Most truck beds are made from steel or aluminum, which can absorb heat and create a dangerously hot surface.
Summer Day Don’ts
Leaving your pet alone in a parked vehicle for an extended period is animal abuse. Animals are in danger of overheating after just ten minutes of being alone in a vehicle. “Hot car” legislation makes it illegal to leave animals unattended in a vehicle when it’s hot in many states across the country.
This, of course, doesn’t mean doggies can’t go for car rides with the windows down — that’s one of their favorite activities! If they’re riding in a crate, double-check that it’s properly ventilated.
Improper Fur Care
Never give your dog a major buzzcut. A fresh cut or trim is fine, but a complete shave can be harmful; they need their fur to protect them from sunburn and other dangers during the hot weather.
Cats also need proper fur care in the heat. Their fur can cause overheating, so it is good to brush them often and regularly. Consider professional grooming to keep your pet cool in the summer.
Unsupervised Pool Time
It’s okay to take your pets for a swim, but never let them out of sight. If you want your pet to experience the water, let them get used to it; they will slowly become more comfortable. Chlorine is bad for dogs. Try not to let them get it in their mouths and remember to shower them off.
Swims in lakes, creeks, and other water bodies are also a great idea, but remember to be an attentive owner while your dog swims!
When your dog is drooling excessively and has dry gums, they are likely dehydrated. Other signs for concern include loss of skin elasticity, sluggish behavior, and sunken eyes. If the case appears mild, rehydrate them using a liquid with electrolytes, like Pedialyte — but don’t let them drink too fast! It’s also essential to leave them indoors for the remainder of the day.
If the case appears to be serious, don’t hesitate — contact your veterinarian’s office right away!
Heat Stroke in Dogs
Dogs pant way more than they sweat. Dogs have sweat glands in their feet. Panting is how they disperse their body heat. However, when the weather is sweltering, they are sometimes unable to pant in the way they need to control their body temperature. This can lead to heat stroke — which is fatal if not handled in time.
- Excessive, heavy panting
- Reddened gums
- Mental dullness
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncoordinated movement
Heat Stroke in Cats
Cats can absorb heat just as easily as dogs, but the signs of overheating may not be as apparent at first. While dogs pant to disperse body heat, cats sweat through glands in their paws. Cats naturally have a bright pink tongue, which can quickly turn bright red if they’ve overheated. If you suspect your cat is suffering from heat stroke, check their paws and their tongue. You can also check them for the following symptoms:
- Thickened saliva
How to Treat Heat Stroke
If your pet is currently exhibiting signs of heat stroke, here’s what you can do:
Cool them down: After getting them out of the hot location immediately, bring them to a cool environment where there is air conditioning or shade.
Monitor their temperature: A dog’s temperature typically ranges between 100°F and 103°F. A cat’s temperature usually ranges between 100.4º to 102.5ºF.
Call your vet: Heat stroke is serious. It requires immediate attention and care from a trained veterinary professional.
Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer
Pets love sunshine and warmer weather. With proper care and attention, you can help your pet enjoy the summertime and prevent heat stroke, dehydration, and overheating. If you have any questions or concerns about how to keep your pet cool this summer, contact us today!