Summers are fun! We all love spending the long, warm and sunny days outside with our four-legged companions. But our four-legged friends deal with heat differently than us two-legged creatures, so here are some tips to avoid overheating our pets:
- Summer brings mosquitoes and mosquitoes bring heartworm. Make sure to take your pets to the Vet for a heartworm test, if they are not already on year-round prevention medication.
- All animals can dehydrate quickly, so be sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water once the weather turns hots and humid. Add more bowls outside, just in case one gets tipped over, make sure there are shady places they can get out of the direct sun, do not over exercise them, and try to keep them indoors when the weather decides to hit the tropical and oppressive heat indexes.
- Know the signs of pet overheating, which includes excessive panting or even difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, being dazed and confused and even complete collapse. Seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting as well as body temperatures of over 104 degrees in dogs and 105 degrees in cats.
- Brachiocephalic pets – our flat-faced friends – like Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs and Persian cats, are significantly more prone to overheating. Their short noses do not allow for clear airflow and their panting does not effectively cool them down. These types of pets, along with those pets who are elderly, overweight and those with heart or lung problems, should be kept in cool air-conditioned places as much as possible.
- NEVER leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle! Not even with cracked windows. Once the temperatures outside reach 70 degrees, the inside of a vehicle rapids warms to fatal conditions.
- Not all dogs are good swimmers, do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool or other bodies of water. Introduce your pets gradually to water and always make sure they are wearing floatation devices when on a boat. Be sure to rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chemicals, salt or other contaminants, and try to keep your pet from drinking the water.
- Never shave your dog down to their skin. The layers of their coat actually protects them from overheating as well as sunburn. Trimming their longer hair is usually alright and can help with grooming but never, ever fully shave. Brushing both long haired cats and dogs also helps them deal with the heat by increasing the airflow through their coat.
- Caution: Hot Asphalt! Keep in mind during the summer months that cement sidewalks, driveways and asphalt surfaces like roads can reach upwards of 150 degrees on a hot sunny day. Before talking your pooch for a walk, be sure to touch the hard surfaces to check for temperature. If it is too hot for you to touch, then it can certainly damage a dog’s paw pads.
- Mr. Yuk means No! But animals cannot read, so keep in mind pesticides, lawn & garden chemicals as well as vehicle coolant are all dangerous if your cat or dog ingest them. Citronella candles, ‘tiki’ torch products and insect coils also need to be out pet’s reach. A good rule of thumb is if you would keep it away from a 2 year old human, then keep it away from pets. Call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you believe your animal has ingested something poisonous.
- Backyard cookouts can be dangerous for pets. Many common BBQ foods and drinks can be poisonous for pets. Alcoholic beverages, grapes or raisins, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener Xylitol are all hazardous if not lethal for pets.
- It is probably best to leave your pets home for the Fourth of July celebrations. Fireworks are dangerous as they are on fire and could potentially result in severe burns or injuries to your pet should they get to close. Most pets are fearful of loud noises and combined with bright flashes of light, they can easily get lost, scared and disoriented. So let’s keep your pets at home in a quiet, escape-proof place and leave this holiday to the humans.
Sources: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, aspcs.org; Petfinder, petfinder.com