We’re getting ready for the very hottest days of summer and if you have pets that go out in the summer heat, they need to be ready, too. We all love spending time outdoors with our furry companions but be careful when doing so. Knowing the risks and signs of distress can help keep your pet safe. To prevent your pet from danger, follow these simple guidelines.
Keep fresh water accessible. Both dogs and cats need access to fresh, cool water. You can add ice to keep the water chilled. Make certain there is a shady place for your pet to get out of the sun and enjoy a refreshing drink.
Check before you shear. One of the most common mistakes pet owners make is shaving their double coated dog, thinking it will help keep them cool. For many breeds, the outer hairs of the double coat serve to repel moisture and keep the dog clean and the undercoat acts as an insulation and keeps the dog warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. Dog breeds such as the Siberian Husky, Norwegian Elkhound, Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Akita, Collie, Corgi and German Shepherd are examples of dogs who should not be shaved because shaving removes that protective barrier that keeps the dog’s skin safe from the sun.
Watch out for hot pavement. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it’s also too hot for your dog’s paws. Walk them in a grassy or graveled area to protect their paws. Remember to check the pavement before taking your dog outside.
No closed cars. We shouldn’t have to say this, but NEVER leave your pet inside a car on a hot day. Not only is this extremely dangerous and can lead to the death of your pet, but it is now illegal in many states.
Recognize a pet in distress. Symptoms may include excessive panting, drooling, struggling to breathe, increased heart and breathing rate, weakness or wobbly legs. According to foundanimals.org, “If you think your pet has overheated, place cool (not ice cold, as this can do more harm!), wet washcloths on his head and neck, and cool compresses on his belly and under his back legs. Call your vet’s office immediately and seek their advice about next steps. Heatstroke can quickly lead to coma, cardiac arrest, and death, so don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. If you see a sign of distress, get your pet checked out immediately.”
Know your breed. Don’t forget that some breeds of animals, particularly those with flat faces such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Persian cats, are more likely to overheat because the anatomy of their face and nose means they can’t pant as effectively. These types of pets, along with older and baby pets, overweight animals and any with medical issues should be kept inside in air conditioning as much as possible during this hot weather.