It is that time of year—whether you prefer hitting the trails or lounging on the beach, summer fun in the sun is here. While many of our pets will gladly join us for romps in the park or lazing poolside, they are at risk for certain heat-related conditions. Keep your pet protected by minding a few dos and don’ts related to the hot weather.
Do keep your pet out of the sun
With their fur coats and minimal sweat glands, our pets are especially vulnerable to the sun’s radiant heat, making them easy heatstroke victims. When outdoors, your pet should always have shade available, keeping in mind that these areas change with the sun throughout the day. Provide a constant source of fresh, cool water, and monitor for any of the following signs that may indicate overheating:
- Excessive panting
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- A body temperature of 103 or higher (best taken rectally)
- Opposition to standing or moving
- Lack of coordination
If you believe your pet is showing signs of heat exhaustion, cool their body with cool, not cold, water, or take them to a nearby wading area, if available. Encourage your pet to drink fresh water and contact your veterinarian or the nearest emergency clinic immediately. Heatstroke is a medical emergency, and any signs of overheating should be taken seriously.
Not only are our pets susceptible to the sun’s heat, but, like people, they can also suffer from sunburn. The nose, muzzle, ear tips, and inguinal regions are the most vulnerable, so keep an eye on these spots. Any hairless pet, or one with a light-colored or thin hair coat, is especially sensitive, so keep these pets out of the sun completely, if at all possible.
Don’t leave your pet in the car
This is common sense to most people. However, what many do not realize is how quickly the temperature can rise inside a vehicle—on a mild, 70-degree day, a car’s interior can reach an estimated 89 degrees in 10 minutes and almost 105 degrees in 30 minutes, according to a study. Opening the windows slightly will not provide enough air flow to adequately decrease the temperature, so don’t fall victim to this popular belief.
Do pay attention to your pet’s swimming abilities
If swimming or hanging beachside with your pooch is on your agenda, don’t assume your pet can swim. While most pets will instinctively attempt to keep themselves afloat, not every pet can do so. Play it safe and fit your furry friend with a life vest. Slowly introduce them to the water by gently wading in the shallows and gradually working up to the doggy paddle. Never force your pet to jump into a body of water without practicing the necessary skills. As with any type of training, reassure your pet with positive reinforcement, such as small treats, or a favorite toy.
Don’t shave your pet
A haircut is indicated if your pet has a long, thick hair coat, but a dog or cat should never be completely shaved. Even thick, double coats provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Shaving can also injure the skin, especially if your pet is wiggly or uncooperative. You can encourage thinning of the haircoat with frequent brushing with a slick brush and by keeping mats at bay with a detangling comb.
Do check the humidity
Brooklyn summers can be brutally hot. And, thanks to our subtropical climate, summers are also humid, which means the air temperature can often feel much hotter. Since our bodies evaporate excess heat through our skin and mucous membranes, when the air is humid or saturated, we cannot evaporate additional moisture. The same goes for our pets, who dissipate heat mainly by evaporation via panting. If you are planning an outing with your pet, check the weather forecast not only for the temperature, but also, possibly more importantly, for the humidity. If the day is sure to be exceptionally hot and muggy, consider leaving your pooch in your air-conditioned home.
Ensure the rest of your summer days are fun by keeping yourself and your pet safe. Contact us if you have questions about heat safety and pets.