Summertime means sun, beach, and lots of play outdoors with your dog or cat (did you know that adventurous cats is a growing trend?). Summer can be a great time to bond with your pet. But higher temperatures also mean higher risks for our furry companions - more injuries, more skin and ear infections, and a possibility of a heat stroke.
Pets do not sweat in the same way humans do and can easily become overheated. To avoid this problems and enjoy the summer season with your pet, here’re the tips to keep in mind.
1. Provide plenty of water and shade
Dehydration in dogs and cats is a real possibility during the summer. Our dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot. Signs of dehydration include dry gums and excessive drooling. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water inside the house and bring a bottle for your furry companion when going outside, just like you do for yourself. You might also switch to a wet dog food during the hotter months to increase fluid intake.
Keep your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and lead to heat stroke.
2.Know the signs
A dog's normal temperature is between 100° and 103°F, while a normal temperature in cats ranges from 100.4º to 102.5ºF. Anything higher than that means your pet’s in danger. Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do. They drink water and pant to bring down their body temperature.
Watch for these possible symptoms of overheating:
- Heavy panting
- Dry or bright red gums
- Thick drool
- Wobbly legs
If your pet shows signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a cool place, give them a drink of water, put a damp towel over their body, and get them to the vet asap. Don’t place your pet in cold water, that can put them into shock.
3.Never leave your pet in the car
Most pets love riding in cars. But they wouldn’t enjoy being stuck in it somewhere in the parking lot when it heats up to over 100 degrees. You may think leaving your pet in a car for a few minutes is no big deal. However, it can take less than 10 minutes to develop heat stroke in dogs and cats inside the hot vehicle.
Leaving your pets in cars not only dangerous to your pet, but it is also illegal in 16 states that have specific “hot car” laws. So, either take your pet with you or leave it at home. If you see a pet left alone in a car under dangerous condition, take action immediately - try searching for the owner asap or even call the police.
4. Apply sunscreen
Believe it or not, pets get sunburns too, especially those with short or light hair coat. And just like with people, it hurts and can even lead to skin cancer. If you are planning to spend a day out in the sun with your furry companion, apply sunscreens every 3-4 hours to the least hair-covered spots: bellies, ears, and nose. Use only sunscreens made specifically for pets. Your vet could advise on the product suitable for your pet fur kid.
5. Don’t shave your pet
You might think shaving your dog a cat for the summer is the best solution to overheating. But a pet's coat is naturally designed to keep it cool during the summer and warm in the winter. Feel free to trim the fur on your pet in the summer, but never shave. Be sure to leave at least a full inch of hair to protect your pet’s skin from sunburns. And don’t forget about your pet’s regular grooming schedule, no matter what season it is.
6. Mind your walking hours
If you have a dog, walk and exercise your pup only in the early morning and late evening. Never do it in the middle of the day. When outside, take breaks in the shade and have water available.
7. Keep your dog's paws cool
Pets heat and cool from the bottom up. If you’re out in the sun together, try to keep your pet off of hot surfaces like cement and asphalt. Not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. It’s also not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the back of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly.
When spraying your dog with water, make sure to spray the paws and stomach to cool them down quicker. If you are using a wet towel, it’s better to rub their paws and stomach than top coat.
If you can't walk your dog during the early and later hours of the day, doggy boots is a good way to protect their paws.
8. Keep parasite off
In summer, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites are practically everywhere. They carry tapeworms, heartworms, and diseases such as Lyme or Bartonella that can put your pet at risk. Ask your vet for the appropriate medical prescriptions to keep your Fido or Kitty pest-free.
9. Consider a life vest
Just like us, dogs enjoy cooling off in water, pool, lake, or ocean. But be very careful where you choose to let them. No all dogs swim well. And even those that do, might not know how to get out of the pool. Also, strong currents and riptides can sweep a dog out to sea.
If you decide to take your doggy sailing or boating, be sure it wears a life vest in a bright color to stay visible and afloat in case of an accident. Always keep an eye on your furry companion when near water.
10. Keep your pets away from fireworks
Summer is the perfect time for barbecues, picnics and overall outdoor celebrations, the biggest being the 4th of July, with fireworks being the most-awaited part. While we all enjoy a big bright bada boom, our pets tend to get scared and run away. Besides, fireworks are made with chemicals like potassium nitrate that can poison your curious pet if eaten.
If you put on your own fireworks display, keep your pet indoors and clear your yard of the fireworks debris before letting your pup or kitty back outside. When heading to the 4th of July celebration, leave your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet area of your home. You can keep an eye on your furkid from afar with a pet camera or GPS pet tracking collar.
Have fun this summer!
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