In the heat of summer, we enjoy getting outdoors for our favorite warm-weather activities. Including our pets in the summer fun can be tricky, especially for pets who have flat faces, thick coats, excess weight, or medical conditions. But, with our list of hot weather do’s and don’ts, you can help your pets safely enjoy the warmth of the sun.
- Don’t let your pet guzzle gallons of water when she’s thirsty. Excessive panting leads to loss of water, which your parched pet will be eager to replace. But, slurping down a large quantity of icy cold water can sit uneasily in your pet’s stomach and may be immediately regurgitated.
- Do offer your pet small amounts of water at a time to slake her thirst. When outdoors, always have plenty of fresh, cool water available for active pets, but do supervise their drinking.
- Don’t take your furry friend with you when running errands. Stay strong and don’t give in to sad puppy eyes, begging for a car ride. Leaving your pet in the car can quickly kill her, as temperatures can easily rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Even if you park in the shade and crack the windows, the heat and humidity can rapidly rise to dangerous levels.
- Do take your pet for joy rides around the block, or for a quick trip through a drive-thru for a dog treat. (This is the one time you have your veterinarian’s permission to share a french fry with your pet.) As long as you stay in the car while it is running and you supervise the air-conditioning control, your pet can delight in summer car rides.
- Don’t exercise in the heat of the day. You may think you are burning more calories by sweating excessively, but you can hurt your running buddy when she tags along. Don’t venture outdoors during the hottest part of the day, which is usually late afternoon through early evening.
- Do become an early bird. Run in the early morning, the coolest part of the day, since scorching temperatures can sizzle well into the evening.
- Don’t make your pup walk across blistering blacktop. Hot sand can be a scorcher, too. Pets feel the same pain we do when we try to run from our beach towels to the ocean.
- Do check the surface temperature before walking your pet. Try this test: If you can’t hold your hand to the ground for five seconds without it hurting, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. If your normal route consists mainly of pavement, consider switching your routine during the summer to find the most shade. Check out your neighborhood’s park trails, or hike through a leafy nature preserve. Grass or dirt provide a more pleasant, cooler surface for your pet’s sensitive paws.
- Don’t soak up the sun’s rays. While cats enjoy lounging in sunny windowsills and dogs like dozing in a patch of sun, too much direct sunlight can raise your pet’s temperature and also may cause skin cancer.
- Do close the shades on sunny days to block excessive sunlight. If your pet wants to enjoy the outdoors, open a canopied tent or lawn umbrella to provide shade. You may also want to apply a pet-friendly sunscreen to your furry friend, especially if she’s light-colored or thin-haired.
- Don’t ignore the signs of an overheating pet. Panting for dogs is normal, and even some cats will pant when it’s hot, but be aware that panting may indicate heat exhaustion.
- Do have a first-aid plan in place in case your pet overheats. At the first sign of heavy panting, profuse saliva, weakness, disorientation, or reddened gums, take immediate action. Bring your pet indoors into an air-conditioned bathroom, place her in the bathtub, run cool—not frigid—water over her body, focusing on the armpits and groin, and slowly decrease her body temperature. Ensure her head stays above water, especially if she’s weak. Keep an eye on her temperature and notify our hospital that your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion. All pets should be examined after a heat-related injury to ensure no lasting damage, because high temperatures can cause heart, brain, and other organ injuries.
Pets can quickly fall victim to scorching summer temperatures. If your pet can’t handle the heat, give us a call for immediate aid.