Summer’s here, and that means there are some important things to think about when it comes to your pets. You probably knew that dogs cool themselves through panting, but did you know that they sweat through their paws too? When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool.
While cats tend tolerate the heat a little better than dogs, and even prefer it (we’ve all seen a cat stretched out on a sunny windowsill), that doesn’t mean that you should forget about your cat this summer! Read on to learn some important summer safety tips for dogs and cats.
- Never, ever, EVER leave your pet in a hot car. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES –for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t ealize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your pet home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog or cat in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your pet with you when you leave the car.
- Keep the paws in mind. When the sun is cooking, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. Also, it’s not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out or be injured or killed in an accident).
- Water and shade. Do your best to keep your furry friend cool and comfortable when you’re out and about. If you and your pet are out in the sun for an extended period of time, make sure there’s plenty of water available to avoid dehydration. Also, get yourpet into the shade as much as possible.
- Haircuts. If you have a pet with a thick coat, consider a haircut! One inch is a good length to avoid sunburn (yes, pets can get sunburns too!) and also keep your pet cool.
- This one’s for the cats: keep your windows screened! We all know cats love windowsills. You may want your house to be ventilated, but you definitely do not want your kitty to fall out!
- Stay safe at barbeques. Backyard barbeques are a lot of fun, but the food and drinks offered can be bad for pets. Keep your pets away from alcohol and foods like grapes,onions, and chocolate.
- Keep your pets away from fireworks. The dangers are obvious – pets are at risk for fatal injuries and painful burns if they are allowed to run around freely when fireworks are being used. Some fireworks also contain chemicals toxic to pets like potassium nitrate and arsenic. Not to mention, the loud noises can be frightening and disturbing to pets (remember, their hearing is many times better than ours).
And perhaps most important, pay attention to your dog and cat – you’ll know when they seem uncomfortable or like they might be in some trouble. Summer can be a great time to spend with your dog or cat, but it’s important to keep these tips in mind as the days grow longer!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Keep your pets safe in the summer heat!
Summer is in full swing and the hot weather can be unbearable for people and animals alike. Here are a few pet safety tips for the summer heat:
Regular exercise, surprisingly, can be dangerous for pets at this time of year. Even if your pets are active, get exercise every day and are in excellent physical shape, you may want to scale back their activities or change your exercise routine to the cooler hours of the morning or evening. That will allow them to acclimate to the sometimes sudden increases in daily temperatures that occur during those spring-into-summer days. Remember, we humans can take off our “winter coats” and put on t-shirts and shorts as the days suddenly grow hotter. However, at this time of year, our pets are often still wearing the remnants of their winter wardrobes. And while people have the capacity to perspire and cool themselves during exercise, our furred friends are limited in how they can cool themselves, relying on panting and limited sweating through the bottoms of their feet. While your pets are acclimating to the new season, develop an exercise plan that will get them safely through to those hotter summer months.
A pet in a closed vehicle is not cool. Nearly everyone knows that leaving a pet in a closed vehicle on a 100-degree day is dangerous. However, it is the pleasant days of spring and early summer that can actually be the most dangerous for pets left in vehicles. Many people forget that pets are affected by heat much more quickly than humans are, and that leaving a pet in a car for “just a minute” can have a deadly outcome. Remember that cars heat up fast—even with the windows cracked!
At home outdoors, ensure that your pets have access to shade and fresh water at all times. Your trip to the supermarket or dentist’s office may take longer than you expect. Temperatures in your yard can increase to high levels in just a few hours, and heat stroke can become a serious issue.
Heat stroke requires immediate veterinary attention! Heat stroke can be deadly. Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, lethargy, stumbling, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heat stroke, you should seek veterinary treatment for your pet as soon as possible. You can provide some immediate treatment using cool (but not icy) water to lower your pet’s temperature by submerging the pet in a tub of water, wetting him with a hose or sponging him down. If your pet showed signs of heat stroke but has been cooled and now appears fine, do not assume that all is well. Internal organs, such as the liver, kidneys and the brain, are all affected by extreme body temperature elevation. It is best to have a veterinarian examine your pet to assess potential health complications and ensure that other risks are not overlooked.
Enjoy your spring-into-summer days with your furred friends—just be sure to take a few precautions and stay cool!
Rabbits can also be adversely affected by extremes of temperature. To control the temperature of their environment and to keep them safe from predators, rabbits should be kept inside. The temperature inside their houses should not drop below 60 or go above 75 degrees. Heat stroke can occur in a rabbit at 80 degrees.
A little empathy goes a long way in protecting our pets from extreme weather. If it’s too hot for us to stay comfortable in the car, in the yard or on a walk, it’s even hotter for our furry friends.