It’s already been a hot summer here in Tennessee, and I’m sure the 90’s are going to be around for a while longer.
As you enjoy the air conditioning from the comfort of your home, be sure you think about the safety of your pets on these hot days as well. Here are some tips to help you understand how pets are affected by the spike in temperature and how to take the necessary precautions to keep them cool and comfortable.
H2O is a Pet’s Best Friend
Unlike humans, dogs and cats have few sweat glands, which hinder them from cooling off by sweating. Instead, they lose heat and moisture from their tongues by panting. This water loss needs to be replaced, so it’s important to keep some fresh drinking water available at all times. This is especially important when you take them out for long summer walks or car rides.
Don’t Park Your Pet
Never leave your pet alone in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. The air in a parked car doesn’t circulate and, even in the shade, the temperature in a vehicle will start to rise and become life threatening in just a few minutes.
Rules for Pools
You should always be cautious when your pets are in or around the pool, especially if they’re older and can’t get in and out of the pool as easily as they used to. Some manufacturers produce ramps to allow pets an easy escape from an accidental fall into the water.
Block That Sun
It may be surprising to learn that pets with light-colored skin and hair can get sunburned. In fact, extensive time in the sun can even result in skin cancer. If you are going to be in a situation where your pet will be spending a long time outside on a hot, sunny day, talk to your veterinarian about using specially developed sun block for pets on unprotected areas like the nose and ears.
Make Some Shade
If you keep your pet outside, be mindful of the fact that a cool spot in the morning can turn scorching hot by mid-afternoon. Be sure to always have a comfortable, sheltered area available that they can retreat to for their rest. A kiddie pool in the shade can provide relief on those scorching summer days.
Summer can be a particularly difficult time because overweight dogs and cats can overheat faster as extra layers of fat act as insulation, trapping heat and restricting breathing.
Grooming is Cool
Common sense would lead you to believe that animals with longer hair would be cooler in the summer if you gave them a “haircut”. However, just as a pet’s coat insulates against cold, it also insulates against heat. Be sure to brush your pet’s hair regularly to get rid of mats and tangles and remove loose undercoat. The more you brush, the more the hair “breathes”.
It’s a Breed Thing
Yes, it’s true. All breeds are not alike and some, because of their nature, can have a more difficult time in the summer than others. Flat-nosed breeds such as Pekingese, Pugs and Bulldogs, for example, have a harder time staying cool than long-nosed dogs because their shortened nose and oral cavities don’t allow them to breathe as efficiently. Learn more about your pet’s particular needs by talking to your veterinarian.
A Weighty Problem
Now, what does this mean with regard to the summer season? Well, summer can be a particularly difficult time of year because, as with humans, overweight dogs and cats can overheat faster because the extra layers of fat act as insulation, trapping heat and restricting breathing. If your pet is overweight, it’s important that you talk to your veterinarian before taking your pet on any outdoor activities you may be planning.
High Noon is No Time for Exercising
If you’re used to taking your dog for a walk during mid-day, it would be wise to change your schedule during summer to early morning or late afternoon walks with fresh water always at hand. Hot pavement can burn a dog’s pads, and walking outdoors during the hottest time of the day can lead to heat stress. After the summer is over, feel free to return to your usual schedule.
Keep the Bugs Off
Rabbits and Ferrets
If you can’t cool your home during the hottest part of the day, wrap a 2-liter plastic bottle in a towel and place it in the cage in the morning. This way, your rabbit or ferret can lie next to the chilled bottle to cool off.
Guinea Pig Habitat
So sit back, sip some lemonade and read over these safety tips so you can give your pets the coolest summer ever!
Credit: VPI Pet Insurance