After spending a long, cold winter indoors, we all look forward to getting outside in the warmer months and spending some time with our four-legged friends. Unfortunately, our tolerance for heat and sunshine doesn’t always measure up with what’s healthy for them. Some of the activities we enjoy most can actually be very dangerous for our pets. Today we will talk about some precautions you can take to help your pet stay healthy while having fun in the sun.
Tip #1 – Start at the Vet’s Office
An annual trip to your veterinarian in Southeastern Massachusetts is a great way to kick off the summer months. This is a great time to schedule your yearly check-up, get updated prescriptions for flea and tick medications or to have your pet checked for heartworm and other parasites.
Tip #2 – Stay Hydrated
Just like people, pets can become dehydrated easily in the summer if they aren’t taking in enough fluids. Make sure they have access to lots of fresh, clean water both indoors and out, and that they have a nice, shady place to lay down in to get out of the sun. Make sure you don’t over-exercise your pets in the summer months, particularly in July and August when the temperatures can get unbearable.
Tip #3 – Pay Attention
Knowing the warning signs of overheating in your pet can help save his life. If you see any of the following symptoms in your pet, you need to get him cooled down and watch to see if he needs to go to the vet for medical help:
- collapsing or walking in a stupor
- difficulty breathing
- excessive panting
- increased heart rate
- increased respiratory rate
- mild to severe weakness
Signs of severe overheating can also include an elevated body temperature of over 104-degrees, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and seizures. Some animals are more susceptible to the heat than others, particularly Pugs, Persian cats and other “flat-faced” pets that are unable to pant and cool down like other breeds. Older animals, pets that are overweight or have been diagnosed with lung or heart disease, must be kept in an air-conditioned room and monitored for warning signs of overheating pets in the summer months.
Tip #4 – Out of the House
If you take your pet with you on a car ride in the summer, NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN A PARKED VEHICLE. Not only is it illegal in several states, but parked vehicles can quickly become extremely hot – even with the windows cracked – leading to heat stroke or death. If you take your pet for a walk in the summer, be aware that the hot asphalt can burn the pads of their feet. Being so low to the ground, pets will also absorb the heat from the asphalt, causing them to become overheated quickly. Take your walks early in the morning before it gets hot or consider leaving your pet home and in the air-conditioning when you run errands.
Tip #5 – Water Fun
Many dogs love water, but not all dogs can swim. Carefully introduce your pets to swimming pools and if you take them out boating with you, get a special pet-fitted floatation device to keep them safe. For dogs who do like to take a dip, make sure to wash off any salt or chlorine from the fur (to prevent dry, itchy skin) and never let your pet drink ocean or pool water. If you use sunscreen on your pet, make sure that it specifically says “for use on animals” on the label.
Tip #6 – Keeping Cool
Many dog and cat owners think it’s a good idea to shave their pets in the summer months. After all, we understand how long hair on the back of one’s neck can make it feel 20-degrees hotter – imagine how it must feel being completely covered with fur! However, the layers of fur actually protect your pets from sunburn and overheating. You can trim longer hair on a dog and cats who are brushed more frequently in the summer will benefit from the extra loose hair removal.
Tip #7 – BBQ 9-1-1
The foods that are served at most summer parties are not safe for your pets. Alcoholic beverages, even in small amounts, can cause intoxication, anxiety and even put your pet into a coma. Onions, chocolate, grapes and raisins are just some of the foods that should not be offered to your pet. Watch your pet at all times and don’t let him gobble up food that gets dropped on the floor during the party. Some pets can get severe digestive problems just from having a treat or snack that is out of the ordinary, so even foods that are seemingly “OK” could potentially become a problem.
These are just a few of the best hot weather tips for pets. Speak with your local veterinarian for more tips and ideas that can help keep your pet happy, healthy and cool all summer long. Don’t have a veterinarian in Southeastern Massachusetts? Call or visit Anchor Animal Hospital, located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Anchor has been taking care of pets in the Southcoast area since 1975, caring for cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, rodents and a wide variety of pocket pets.