Many of us delight in soaking up every warm, sunny summer day, knowing fall’s cooler temperatures are right around the corner. This summer has been especially H-O-T, and you should always take precautions to keep your pet and yourself cool and safe on the days when the temperature skyrockets. Our pets are as susceptible to overheating as we are, and they rely on us to keep them cool and comfortable during summer’s intense heat and high humidity. Read our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team’s tips for keeping your pet safe during summer’s heat.
#1: Know your pet’s overheating risk
All pets can easily overheat when the temperature and humidity levels are high. However some pets have a higher overheating risk than others. Certain dog breeds and dogs with health conditions can overheat easily, including:
- Brachycephalic pets — Brachycephalic (i.e.,flat-faced) breeds may look adorable, but their facial structure can cause them to experience airflow problems. Brachycephalic pets breathe inefficiently, and, therefore, cool down inefficiently, increasing their susceptibility to heat-related conditions such as heatstroke. The following breeds have the highest heatstroke risk:
- Chow chow
- Bulldog (especially the French bulldog)
- French mastiff
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- English Springer spaniel
- Golden retriever
- Overweight pets — Overweight or obese pets have an increased heatstroke risk because extra fat layers act as insulation, which impedes their ability to cool down. Large, muscular pets, such as giant breeds, also have an increased overheating risk.
- Older pets — Senior pets may not dissipate excess body heat as efficiently as young pets, and they are more likely to develop heatstroke, because their cardiovascular and respiratory functions have decreased.
#2: Provide your pet with water and shade
Your pet can become dehydrated quickly, so ensure they always have access to fresh, clean water when the outside temperature or humidity levels are high. Pet dehydration signs include sunken eyes, dry mouth, and lethargy. Regularly refill your pet’s water bowl, and add some ice cubes to keep their water cool. Another way to help your pet stay hydrated is by feeding them moist foods, or adding some canned food or broth to their kibble. You can also offer your pet healthy, hydrating snacks such as blueberries, watermelon, green beans, strawberries, or sweet potatoes.
In addition to ensuring your pet remains hydrated while outside, ensure they always have access to shade. Trees provide natural shade, but if your yard does not have large, established trees, create a shady spot for your pet with shade sails, or a pergola.
Water and shade are essential to protect your pet from overheating while they are outdoors during the summer, but the best place for you and your pet on extremely hot days is indoors, with the air conditioner on.
#3: Never leave your unattended pet in the car
Leaving your unattended pet in a parked car is illegal in many states, because they can develop heatstroke, and succumb to the suffocating heat within minutes, regardless of whether the windows are rolled down, or the vehicle is in the shade. When running errands during hot weather, leave your pet at home where they will be cool and safe.
#4: Avoid strenuous exercise with your pet during the hottest part of the day
Avoid walking your pet during the heat of the day, and take a shorter walk when the temperature is high. Instead, walk with your pet in the early morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler. Forgo strenuous outdoor activities on extremely hot days, and do something fun indoors with your pet.
#5: Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces
On days that are so hot you can cook an egg on the sidewalk, prevent your pet’s paw pads from getting seriously burned. Paved surfaces become much hotter than the surrounding air, and they can burn your pet’s paws in minutes. A pavement that is too hot for your bare feet is too hot for your pet’s paw pads. If you and your pet go out during the day’s hottest temperature, walk on the grass, and stick to shady areas. Regularly check your pet’s paw pads for blistering or redness, indicating a burn that needs medical attention.
#6: Watch for overheating signs
Although you do all you can to prevent your pet from overheating, they are still at risk when temperature or humidity levels skyrocket. To prevent overheating from becoming a life-threatening condition, learn to recognize your pet’s heatstroke signs:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
If your pet begins showing heatstroke signs, quick action is essential to prevent them from developing permanent brain and organ damage, which can occur if their body temperature reaches or exceeds 106 degrees. Left untreated, heatstroke can lead to coma and death.
#7: Act quickly if your pet overheats
If your pet overheats, their prognosis depends on how high their temperature rises, and the amount of time their temperature remains elevated. If you suspect your pet is overheating, quickly cool them down by doing the following:
- Move your pet to a cool area — Immediately bring them to a cool, well-ventilated area.
- Offer your pet water — Offer your pet water, but do not force them to drink.
- Take your pet’s temperature — Use a rectal thermometer to monitor your pet’s temperature, and share the information with your veterinarian.
- Cool your pet — Use lukewarm—never cold— water and wet towels to cool your pet. In addition, point a fan at them to help promote cooling.
- Seek veterinary care — After you have performed your pet’s at-home cooling process, immediately bring them to a veterinary hospital, regardless of whether their symptoms have improved to ensure they have not experienced internal damage.
With preparation, you can keep your pet cool, safe, and healthy during the hot summer months, and enjoy outdoor adventures together. In addition, summertime is also flea and tick season. Schedule an appointment with our Juanita Hills Animal Hospital team to discuss your pet’s heat safety, and to ensure your pet receives their flea, tick, and heartworm preventives.
Leave A Comment