Although summer is slowly winding down, it’s no time to relax your guard about keeping your furry pal safe from the season’s heat, because temperatures you may consider mild can pose a threat to your fur-coat-wearing pet. At Livingston Veterinary Hospital, we want to help keep your best friend safe from harm, so follow these seven tips when you and your pal head out to soak up the remainder of the summer sun.
#1: Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke in pets
Without knowing what to watch for, you may leave it too late to save your pet from potentially deadly heatstroke. Keep the following signs of heat-related illness in mind when enjoying the outdoors with your furry friend:
- Excessive panting
- Thick, ropy drool
At the first sign of heavy panting, or if your pet appears weak or tired, immediately head to a cool shelter to rest and recover.
#2: Seek shady shelter when outdoors with your pet
Direct sunlight can be scorching, despite a protective fur coat. When playing outdoors in the sun, your pet can quickly overheat, and their areas with little fur can be sunburned. In addition, not only does the hot sun threaten your pet with overheating, but the sizzling rays can also turn the sidewalk and roads into blistering walkways for your tender-footed pal. Before heading out on your daily walk, check the pavement with the back of your hand. If it’s too hot to leave your hand on the surface for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet. Also, white and light-colored cats are at a higher risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma from increased UV light exposure, so block access to sunny windowsills when the sun is shining in full force.
#3: Drink up, and provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pet
When exercising and playing outdoors with your pet, ensure they always have plenty of fresh, cool water. Put a water dish in the shade to keep the water cooler and more appealing to your furry pal. Encourage your pet to remain hydrated by offering ice cubes, running a fountain, or freezing small blocks of low-sodium chicken broth to add to the water dish.
#4: Stay indoors during the heat of the day
You may want to head outside to work on your tan during the sun’s highest point of the day, but keep your furry pal indoors. Plan your pup’s exercise and play schedule during the coolest part of the day, such as early morning. Late evening may still hold the day’s heat and humidity.
#5: Brush up on your pet’s summer grooming care
When you’re hot, you can shed layers of clothing to stay cool, but your furry pal can’t do the same. But, before you run to the groomer—shaving your pet down to the skin to remove that thick layer of fur may seem like a good idea, but can actually do more harm than good. Your pet’s natural coat offers thermoregulation, as long as the fur is properly groomed (i.e., a routine that removes dead hair, prevents mats, and disperses healthy skin oils), which will help keep your pet cool, and protect them from harsh weather.
#6: Create cool treats for your pet
Is there anything better than an ice cream sundae on a scorching hot day? While dairy products can easily cause a gastrointestinal upset in your four-legged friend, they can still enjoy cool treats. For cats or dogs, freeze a rubber Kong stuffed with their favorite treats. Dogs will also enjoy frozen veggies, such as green beans and carrots, and small bites of frozen fruit—excluding grapes. Your cat will likely turn up their nose at fruits and veggies, but will love tuna-broth ice cubes.
#7: Monitor your pet’s activity level outdoors
Does your pooch enjoy playtime a little too much? If your dog is active or hardworking, closely monitor their activity when outdoors. Some dogs do not know when to stop and take a break, so you must be their advocate and force relaxation breaks. Avoid throwing the ball, running your full neighborhood loop, or practicing the agility course until your pooch drops, and allow only short bursts of activity, to ensure your furry pal safely handles the hot weather.
Is your pet’s fur coat getting in the way of enjoying summertime activities? Give us a call at Livingston Veterinary Hospital if they suffer from heat-related issues during this sizzling season.