Summer is officially underway! While we normally associate this time of year with carefree vacations, barbeques, and pool parties, the heat during this time of year can be dangerous for pets. Although we as humans can sweat to keep ourselves cool, pets are unable to drench themselves in perspiration. Without the help of sweat, our pets do not cool themselves as well as we can. Instead, they release heat and regulate their body temperatures through panting, shedding, and contact cooling. Every summer I see too many preventable, heartbreaking, heat stroke cases in the animal hospital, with several them resulting in serious or fatal issues in my patients. With these facts in mind, I’ve compiled a list of summer safety tips to help keep your pet cool during the summer heat:
1. If your pet is left outdoors, please always ensure easy access to shade and fresh water:
Temperatures in the yard can increase to dangerous levels with a short period of time, so make sure your pet’s have a shady place to get out of the hot sun. If there are no naturally occurring shaded spots in your yard, try creating one with some cloth or cardboard. Feel free to get creative! Don’t forget to check your pet’s water bowl regularly during the summer and fill it up whenever it’s low. These are easy ways to keep your pet cool and away from overheating and dehydration in the summer heat. Additionally, keep your pets out of conservatories and greenhouses, as these sun traps are devoid of cooling breezes and get dangerously hot.
2. Be smart about exercise and play time:
If you have active pets, make sure to adjust activities to avoid the mid-day heat in the summer. Instead, take your pets out for play and exercise during the early mornings or late evenings when it’s a bit cooler to avoid overheating. Also make sure to take breaks between play and exercise and remember to pack water and a bowl for your pets. This will prevent over-exercise and dehydration from the heat.
3. Some cooling snacks for your pets:
The best treat during the summer heat for your pet is a few ice cubes to lick! However, for special occasions, you can reward your pet with a banana peanut butter pupsicle, a chicken broth and parsley popsicle, or fruit drops. While it's great to keep your pet cool with homemade treats in mind, make sure to stay away from potentially toxic and dangerous foods.
4. Never leave pets in a parked car:
Parked cars are almost like big furnaces as temperatures inside can climb very high, very fast – even with the widows open. A comfortable 75-degrees can climb to 90-degrees in just 10 minutes; imagine what a hot 90-degree day can do in the same amount of time! Temperatures above 100 degrees can cause a pet to overheat in less than 15 minutes, putting your beloved pet at serious risk for discomfort, illness, and even death. Leaving pets unattended in a car is illegal in many states so if you see a distressed pet inside a parked car on a warm day, please immediately try to find its owner or call your local law enforcement/animal control for help.
5. Check for hot pavement:
On warm days when the ground heats up, hot pavement can easily burn and injure your pet’s sensitive paw pads. Check the ground with your hand before heading out for a walk. If the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Keep walking and exercising to a minimum during these times.
6. Prevent sunburn:
Yes, pets can get sunburnt too! Particularly those with fair fur/skin, white ears, and pinker noses. This can lead to painful blisters, sores, and long-term exposure can lead to skin cancers. Be sure to buy pet sunscreen and apply to those sensitive areas before stepping out into the sun.
7. Water and pool time:
Water is fun, refreshing, and can keep your pet cool for longer periods of time during the summer heat! Feel free to put out a paddling pool for your pets or to play with them with the hose. If you have a swimming pool, make sure to keep an eye on your pet if they’re swimming in the pool, as they can get tired easily and forget where the exit is.
8. Know the signs of heat stroke:
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition in pets that’s brought on by a sudden rise in body temperature, often related to the summer heat. Signs include excessive panting, extremely red tongue and gums, lethargy, stumbling, collapse, seizures, sudden bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, please visit your local veterinarian immediately. You can use cool (not icy) water to wet your pet and lower their temperature and make sure to keep an eye on your pets that are elderly, overweight, or suffer from chronic illnesses. Flat faced pets are especially susceptible as they do not have as much surface area from their mouths to release body heat when panting.
We hope these safety tips to keep your pet cool have been helpful and that you and your furry friends will have a cool summer filled with fun times! Once again, please seek out your local veterinarian if you suspect your pet is dealing with heat stroke. As always, feel free to reach out to our team on Facebook, Instagram, email, or in the comments section below if you have any further questions. Post your favorite summer pictures of your pet and don’t forget to #wellnergypets! Have a wonderful summer everyone!
About the Author:
Dr. Zonram Liao D.V.M. is a Southern California native, and earned his undergraduate degree from University of California, San Diego before obtaining his veterinary degree from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is not only a firm believer in the use of supportive care supplements to improve the health and happiness of his patients, but also is a strong advocate of the benefits of preventive care medicine for his patients as well. During his free time, Dr. Liao enjoys spending his time outdoors fishing and hiking, playing basketball, watching movies, cooking, traveling, and trying new foods.