As we go through the summer months with rising temperatures, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to not only people, but our pets too. As pet owners, we need to be aware of these dangers and how to keep our pets cool and comfortable.
Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summer heat.
Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This will cause organ damage and even death for any pet.
Limit exercise on hot days. On really hot days, limit your pet to early-morning or evening-hour exercises. Also, be especially careful with pets that have light-colored ears, since they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Pets with short noses, who typically have difficulty breathing, may also have a lot of difficulty in extreme heat. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pets' paws, so walk them on grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your pet hydrated.
A fan isn't enough. Pets respond to heat differently than humans do. Dogs sweat through their feet, and fans don't have the same effect on dogs that they do on people.
Give them plenty of shade and water. Make sure your pet has protection from the heat and sun, and plenty of fresh cold water. During heat waves, add ice to water to keep it cooler longer. You may think that a just because a doghouse provides shade it can keep your dog cool enough, but it doesn't. There isn't enough air flow in a typical doghouse to keep a pet cool.
Take your dog swimming. If your dog enjoys water, this can be a great way for him to cool off and get some exercise. If you don't live by water, you can use a kiddie pool in a shaded area.
Watch for signs of heat stroke. Warning signs to look for include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep-red or purple tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness.
Certain animals are more prone to heat stroke than others including, Senior pets and very young animals, overweight pets, pets that don't get a lot of exercise or that have heart and respiratory issues.
Certain breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, and shih tzus, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
If you think your pet is experiencing heat-stroke symptoms, move your pet into the shade or to an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest. Give your pet fresh, cold water or ice cubes to lick and call your veterinarian.
For more information, check out the Humane Society's website for tips to keep pets safe in the heat. Let's work together to keep all pets safe this summer.