Regardless of the time of year, there are things that you must look out for with regard to the care of your family pet. Whether you have a cat, dog or small rodents as pets, it is important to consider all of the things that might negatively impact your pet throughout the year. Summertime brings it’s own share of risks and situations that might be harmful to your pet. Seasonal pet tips, such as being aware of how hot weather might affect your pet, what to look out for at a family barbecue, paying attention to water conditions in ponds, lakes or swimming pools – there are lots of things to learn to keep your pet safe this time of year.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
Our pets can’t tell us that they are too hot or that the heat is making them feel sick, so it is our job to watch for signs of increased heat and the problems associated with it during the summer. We also need to do what we can to keep them cool and protected, especially if they are stuck indoors all day while we are gone at work or otherwise away. Keeping your pets indoors with the air conditioning on, as well as an oscillating fan, can be a huge benefit. Keep the shades drawn to prevent the hot sun from penetrating your home. If your pet is crated while you are away, make sure that they are not in an area where they will be stuck in the sun at any time during the day and that they aren’t directly under the A/C vent where they might get too cold.
If your pet is outdoors, make sure there are shady areas that they can go to and cool down. Provide plenty of fresh water indoors and outdoors. In the extreme heat, you can even add ice cubes to their bowls to make sure that the water stays cool. Do not leave your pet unsupervised around a swimming pool. Your pool should be gated, as it would be for children, or make sure to at least provide a gated area to keep your pet so it will stay away from the pool when you are not around. Consider getting your pet a summer cut, but not so short that the risk for sunburn increases. Consult with your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian regarding grooming for the particular breed and species of pet that you have.
Restrict outdoor play or walks to early in the morning or late in the evening, just before sunset or after the sun has set. This will help prevent heat stroke, but it will also prevent burns on paws from the concrete or asphalt. When it is hot, avoid any type of excited outdoor play that might cause your pet to overdo it. Do not take long hikes or long walks. Keep your walks short and close to home to avoid exhaustion in warm weather. Never ever leave your pet in a hot car. Even if you have the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can exceed 100-degrees or more in just a few minutes. Leave your pet at home where the temperature can be controlled better, especially during a heat wave.
When to Bring a Pet to the Emergency Vet
If you have dogs, cats or small rodents as pets and you suspect that your pet might be suffering from heat stroke or another weather related illness or condition, make sure to bring them into the Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian right away. In addition to following the seasonal pet tips above, it is important to know the signs and symptoms that would require you to bring your pet to the Dartmouth emergency vet.
Watch out for symptoms such as:
- difficulty breathing or excessive panting
- increased heart rate or respiratory rate
- drooling, weakness, stupor or collapse
- seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting
How to Cool Down an Over-Heated Pet
If you even suspect a heat stroke or other heat-related illness, bring your pet to the veterinary clinic right away. However, if you believe your pet may be getting slightly overheated there are some things that you can do at home, while continuing to watch for any symptoms that might alert you to a more serious condition. Specific breeds of canines may be more susceptible to heat stroke, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, who have short or flat noses and already have difficulty breathing. Specific feline breeds can also have issues, including Persians who also have flat noses, or very furry cats, such as Maine Coons, which can overheat quickly.
Try to cool your pet down by putting some cool water on their bodies. Do not use ice cold water or very cold water. Do not put them in a bath or small pool, but instead get water on their paws, arm pits and groin to help cool down these heat points. Soaking a dog completely can put them into shock and trap heat inside the body. Provide them with cool water and urge them to drink. Prevent them from drinking too much, however, to avoid over consumption.
For small pets, such as hamsters or Guinea pigs, place a single ceramic tile in the freezer or refrigerator overnight. You can then place the cooled down tile inside the cage. Don’t choose a piece of tile that has sharp edges that might cut your pet. Give them access to fresh water via water bottles to ensure proper hydration. You can add a damp towel that is cold in one corner of the cage or place the towel over top one side of the cage to create a cool and shaded section. Make sure to always have a cool and a warmer side so your small pet can move around and adjust his temperature as needed.
For more seasonal pet tips for the South Coast area, speak with your Southeastern Massachusetts veterinarian. They can provide you with specific tips for small rodents as pets, as well as for cats, dogs, bunnies and other pets. Call Anchor Animal Hospital, which provides a wide range of veterinary services. We are a local Dartmouth emergency vet, but also do regular check-ups, therapies, vaccinations and other treatments. Call today at 508-996-3731.