Warm, sunny days are made for outdoor activities and great times with friends and family. You may be planning a social gathering or a day on the beach. Whatever your plans, be careful. All good things can be overdone; for example, taking in the sun at the beach is good, but if you get too much sun, you likely will get sunburned. Pets love being in the sun, too, but they can also get too much of a good thing. Here are our recommendations to ensure you and your dog have a fun, safe time together this summer.
1: Exercise and play when it’s cool
Dogs love to go outside for a good walk or game of fetch. However, when vigorous activity is combined with hot weather, your dog can become ill or injured. Plan your walks with your dog for early morning and late evening when days are cooler to avoid overheating. If you do walk during the day, be mindful that walking surfaces, such as asphalt, retain the sun’s heat and can burn your dog’s paw pads. Check the walking surface by placing your hand on the ground—if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on. During walks, always take frequent breaks in the shade and stay hydrated.
2: Keep pets hydrated
Keep your pet hydrated by providing plenty of fresh, cool water. Carry bottles of water and a collapsible water dish if your pup accompanies you on a hike or other outing.
3: Do not take pets on car rides
The temperature inside a car can quickly rise and become deadly. The interior of a car parked outside on a 72-degree day can rise to 91 degrees in 10 minutes, and rolling down the windows will provide little relief. Imagine you are sitting in that car wearing a fur coat—that is how your pet will feel inside your car, so whether you are taking a quick trip to the store or planning a long shopping spree, keep your pet safe and leave her at home.
4: Know the signs of heatstroke in pets
Animals regulate their body temperature differently than humans. Animals can sweat only through their paw pads, and they will pant in an attempt to cool themselves, but their panting cannot always keep up.
Some pets, including cats and dogs with longer hair coats, flat faces, or health complications like obesity, are more easily affected by the heat and should be watched more closely. Any pet, regardless of her condition, can overheat quickly, and knowing heat-exhaustion signs so you can intervene early could save your pet’s life. Watch for the following signs:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Bright red gums
- Excessive panting and drooling
- High fever
If your pet exhibits any of these signs, remove her from the sun immediately, take her to a shady spot, and give her cool water. If possible, take her temperature. The normal temperature of dogs and cats should be between 99.0 to 102.5 degrees; pets with a temperature higher than 106 degrees are experiencing heatstroke and should receive immediate medical attention. Apply cool, not cold, water to your pet’s armpits, neck, abdomen, paws, and rear legs with a wet towel or spray bottle. Do not wrap her in the towel. You can also apply small amounts of isopropyl alcohol to her paw pads. Then, immediately seek veterinary care by visiting our hospital or the nearest veterinary emergency clinic.
Are you concerned about keeping your pet cool this summer? Contact our hospital team, and we will help you prepare your pet for the heat.