Summer is a time of rising temperatures, thick humidity, and intense storms. It is difficult enough for humans to cope with these conditions, let alone our furry friends. Here are a few simple steps for keeping your pets safe in the heat.
#1 NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN A PARKED CAR. On a cool day of 72°, the inside temperature of a car can reach 116 degrees in just 60 minutes. That is a 44-degree increase. Research has found that cracking the windows and parking under shade has little or no effect on helping to slow the rise in temperature inside a car. Also leaving the air conditioner on does not guarantee the safety of your pet. The air conditioning could break or dangerous fumes can build up inside. A pet left in a parked car is susceptible to heat stroke. If you suspect your pet is experiencing heat stroke, move the animal to a cool place, place cool, not cold, compresses on its belly and immediately seek veterinary care for your pet. Information on car safety.
#2 AVOID EXERCISING YOUR PET DURING PEAK HOURS OF HEAT AND HUMIDITY. It is important to exercise your pet during early morning or evening hours when the temperatures are cooler. On very hot days take care in adjusting the speed and length of time your pet spends exercising. Be aware that hot asphalt can burn your pet’s paws so if possible walk on the grass. And remember that pets with white-colored ears are at a greater risk of skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to keep your white-colored pets safe from the sun’s rays. When going out for a walk remember to keep water on hand for you and your pet to keep hydrated.
#3 FANS DO NOT HELP IN THE HEAT AS MUCH AS THEY DO FOR US HUMANS. Dogs sweat thru their feet and pant to keep cool. A fan will help cool your pet down some. However, pets do not have the ability to sweat thru out their bodies, have thick coats, and can overheat quickly on very hot days even with a fan. Air conditioning is best for pets and people on excessively hot, humid days. If a fan is the only option for keeping cool, try keeping your pet in the same room as the fan. Open all windows and any other entrances for air flow to create a cross breeze.
#4 PROVIDE PLENTY OF SHADE AND WATER FOR YOUR PET WHEN OUTSIDE. Anytime your pet is outside, make sure there are a few spots of protection from the heat and sun. Trees and tarps are excellent sources of protection from the sun. Remember that dog houses or igloos are not good protection from the heat and sun as they do not allow air to pass through since they are made for protection from the cold weather. Supply plenty of clean, fresh, cool water in numerous bowls around the yard.
#5 KEEP YOUR PET COOL FROM THE OUTSIDE. When participating in activities outside for long periods a cooling neck or body wrap, vest or mat can keep your pet cool. If your pet is long haired or has a thick coat, taking your pet to a groomer to be shaved and groomed regularly will help keep your pet cooler. Be careful with sun exposure on any exposed skin when shaving your pet’s fur short. A great option for larger dogs is a baby pool filled with water to allow them to play in and keep cool. As with any water keep a close eye on your pet around water.
#6 BE AWARE OF THE SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE AND PETS THAT ARE MORE SUSCEPTIBLE. Know the symptoms of heat stroke. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that is characterized by heavy, loud breathing, a staggering gait, glazed look in the eyes, rapid heartbeat, a bright red tongue and gums, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, possible seizures, and unconsciousness. Brachycephalic, short-nosed, dogs are particularly susceptible to heat and humidity due to their small, flattened noses. They have a more difficult time moving air and cooling themselves. Animals that are very young, overweight, or have heart or respiratory disease are also at an increased risk of heat stroke.
#7 BE PREPARED WITH A PLAN IN CASE OF A POWER OUTAGE. Create a plan to keep you and your pet safe from the high heat and humidity in case of a power outage during a summer storm. If power will be out for an extended period of time, see if a friend or family member would be willing to allow you to stay cool at their house. Another great option is to keep a body wrap, vest or mat on hand to keep your pet cool until the power returns. If it is safe to sit outside in a shady spot, a covered porch, deck, or patio is an excellent area to get a nice cross breeze to keep cool. Also, remember to keep plenty of bottled water on hand for you and your pet to stay hydrated. Information on what to do in case of an emergency.
Summer is the time of backyard parties, long walks, and general fun in the sun. It is also the time of high temperatures, thick humidity, and intense storms. But, with proper planning, education, and supplies your furry friend can enjoy the summer safely.
Meghan Burnell, AS