Summertime is finally here and we welcome the sun and heat with open arms! Bring on the summer hikes, beach days and backyard barbecues! Although we may be excited, our pets may not be. Or maybe they are…. but as owners, we need to be aware of the new host of risks that come along with summer and keep our pets safe.
Our pets are susceptible to heatstroke, maybe even more than we are. They have limited sweat glands, are covered in fur and cannot always control their environment like you or I can. Some pets are at an increased risk such as young and old pets, pets with long fur, or brachycephalic (short-snouted) breeds. We also have to remember that our pets don’t wear shoes to protect their feet from the heat.
- Exercise in the morning or evening. Avoid the hottest times of the day and when the sun is overhead. Avoid walking on asphalt, as it absorbs the heat and can cause burns on your pet’s paws. Try walking in shaded areas. If your dog walks with a backpack – place ice packs in it to keep them cool.
- Access to water. Ensure there is always fresh water available. You may have to add more water dishes around the home than you had throughout the winter. Add a dish to the yard, ensuring they will not knock it over. Bring water on your walks.
- Cool environments: If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, close up the blinds to keep the direct sunlight out to keep the heat down. Place a fan in the room where your pets spend their day. Restrict them to a lower level in the home where it is cooler. Cooling Gel mats are available that stay cold for your pet to lay on (only for pets that will not destroy or eat their beds!).
- The Back Yard: Make sure there is water and shade available or they have free access to come back inside to cool down. Maybe add a “Kiddie Pool” with a few inches of water that Fido can walk around, or lay in.
- Frozen Treats: We enjoy cold treats throughout the summer, so do our pets. There are lots of recipes you can use inside of puzzle toys (ex. Kongs) that you can freeze. Peanut butter or low-fat plain yogurt are great options.
- The Car: Do NOT leave your dog in the vehicle. Just don’t do it. We have all heard the horror stories of pets dying in the car while the owners were “just going to be a minute”.
Always monitor your pets during the hot weather. Signs that your pet is in distress include: Heavy panting, difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, drooling. If any of these signs are noted, get the pet out of the heat, and slowly cool them down – cool cloth on their paw pads, ears, and groin, place them in front of a fan and offer small amounts of water at a time. If signs persist, seek veterinary care immediately.
Written by Dr Nicole Hobbs Ford