How to keep your pet safe in the hot summer sun
Spending time outdoors with your pet is one of the joys of spring and summer, but prolonged exposure to heat can be dangerous for your furry companion. Animals deal with heat differently than humans, so temperatures that feel comfortable to us can be too much for your pet. Dehydration and heat stroke can happen to even the healthiest pets, so it’s important to take precautions as well as know the warning signs of a pet in distress.
Take your pet for a checkup. It’s smart to make a veterinary appointment in the spring or early summer for a checkup and to make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations. Pets should also be given a blood test for heartworm every spring, especially in Southern states, where heartworm is most prevalent. Heartworm is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and is usually fatal. Pets should be on a monthly flea, tick and heartworm preventative medication all year-round.
Be wary of exercise on hot days. On very hot and humid days, walk your dog early in the morning and in the evening, when the weather is cooler. Encourage your dog to walk in grass, if possible, because asphalt can burn their paws. A hot day is not the time to take your dog on a hike or a long run.
Be aware of of the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage or death, so bring your dog to the vet immediately if you see any of the following symptoms: excessive panting, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, drooling, vomiting, lethargy, lack of coordination, weakness, glazed eyes, a purplish tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Bring your pet into air conditioning quickly and use cold towels or ice packs on the dog’s head, neck and chest, or run cool water over them. Let the dog drink small amounts of cool water or lick some ice cubes.
Take special care with at-risk pets. Animals with flatter faces and shorter muzzles such as pugs, Pekingese, shih tzus, Boston Terriers, bulldogs, and boxers are at greater risk for heat stroke because they can’t pant as effectively as other animals. They should be kept in air conditioning as much as possible, along with pets who are very young, elderly, overweight, and those with lung or heart disease.
Know the symptoms of dehydration. Dogs and cats can become dehydrated very quickly, so it’s important to provide plenty of fresh, cool water and shade whenever your pet is outside. Add ice cubes to their water and consider making a frozen treat for your dog, like peanut butter pup-sicles. Symptoms of severe dehydration can include sunken eyes; excessive or too little urination; dry, sticky gums; or a lack of skin elasticity. It can be an emergency, so bring your pet to the vet immediately so IV fluids can be administered.
Don’t expose your pet to fireworks. Dogs and cats are frightened by fireworks, so don’t bring them to any July 4 displays. Not only can lit fireworks result in burns and trauma, the loud noise from fireworks can be stressful and scary.
Make sure windows are secured. Every year, veterinarians treat animals for “high-rise syndrome,” which happens when an animal falls from a window that’s not properly secured. Keep any unscreened windows closed at all times and ensure that adjustable screens are tightly fastened shut.
Never leave your pet in a parked car. Temperatures inside a car can skyrocket on a hot day, and keeping the window opened slightly won’t help much. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes, putting your pet at risk for heat stroke, which could be fatal. Leave your pet at home if you can’t bring them inside with you.
Hot Weather Tips [Petfinder]
Hot Weather Safety Tips [ASPCA]
Make Peanut Butter Pup-Sicles [Humane Society]