Summer brings fun, dog-friendly activities like boating on the lake, hiking, and backyard get-togethers. However, it also brings the risk of heat-related issues, such as sunburn, blistered feet, and heatstroke. Animals overheat more easily than humans because they cannot sweat. Sunburn can be treated, but heatstroke is serious and can cause organ failure, blindness, and death. Protecting your pet from overheating is not difficult. Here are five easy ways to keep your pet safe and healthy this summer.
Water, water, water
Above all, your pet must have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and especially on hot days, whether you’re inside or out. On summer road trips, don’t count on rest stops to have water for your pet. Instead, pack water in bottles and bring a collapsible bowl.
Keep pets inside
Keep your pet from overheating by limiting her exposure to the sun and any reflected heat from paving or rocks. It’s best to keep your pet inside during the hottest part of the day, if possible. If she is kept outdoors, ensure she has access to shade at all times and try, at the minimum, to give her indoor breaks to cool down. If indoors isn’t an option, consider providing a kiddie pool full of cool water that is in the shade. Again, ensure your pet has fresh water at all times, whether she’s kept indoors or out.
Pets with short noses, such as bulldogs, Boston terriers, pugs, and boxers, need special consideration, because they cannot regulate their temperature as well as regular-snouted dogs, and they should never be exposed to a hot environment.
Don’t leave pets unattended in the car
Never leave your pet in your car, even for short periods, even when your air conditioning is running, even if a window is down. The car’s inside temperature can climb 40 degrees in 30 minutes and, literally, turn into an oven. If you travel with your pet in the summer, take her with you when you leave the vehicle, even for a few moments. Always pack extra water. Also, watch your pet’s sun exposure while you’re driving, and use sunscreen products on your pet’s pink or white areas. Ask our team about the appropriate product.
Avoid burned pet paws
Your pet’s most sensitive and least protected skin is the bottom of her feet, and, like you, she cannot walk barefoot on hot pavement. Avoid concrete and dark surfaces that could cause burning and blistering. If such surfaces can’t be avoided, or for extra protection, consider buying your pet a pair of booties, which are available in various sizes and different styles for activities from simple walking to mountain hiking.
Watch for signs of heat-related illness in your pet
Every pet owner must know the signs of heat exhaustion, the precursor to heat stroke, and act immediately if a pet is affected. If your pet is panting excessively, vomiting, has diarrhea, or is extremely lethargic, she may be in distress and should be moved inside immediately and offered water. Putting your dog near a fan or in the basement can help speed cooling, as can dampening her fur with lukewarm water and letting her air dry. Do not use icy water, which can cause life-threatening complications. If you suspect heat illness, take your dog as quickly as possible to our office to be monitored for dehydration and shock. She may need intravenous fluids, medication, and hospitalization. Check your pet at regular intervals when she is outdoors or participating in strenuous activities, especially on warm days, because the earlier you catch her distress signs and get help, the faster she will recover.
Summer is a fun time of year for people and pets, but it won’t be fun if your pet overheats. Keep your pet, and yourself, cool and safe, and don’t hesitate to call us if you suspect your pet is suffering from the heat.