It may have snuck up on you after social isolation, but as soon as you open your front door, you’ll recognize that summer is here. It’s hot - really hot - and getting hotter. From asphalt to sunburn, rising temperatures come with many safety concerns for our fur-wearing pals.
How can you prepare for a successful and safe summer with your best friend? All it takes is a little preparation and awareness.
1. Avoid Hot Asphalt
Our dogs stick by our sides, but sometimes their devotion can lead to safety issues. If your dog walks beside you on hot tar or concrete, it could cause severe burns and damage to their paws.
What can you do to prevent paw burns?
- Take walks during cooler weather in the morning and evening.
- Check the temperature of asphalt before you let your dog walk on it. If you cannot hold your hand on the surface for more than 10 seconds without feeling uncomfortable, it’s too hot for your pet.
- Check your dog’s paws before and after walks. If you find cuts, scrapes, or blisters, skip the walk to let your dog’s paws heal, and make an appointment with us to assess the damage.
2. Brush Your Dog or Cat
Fur coats and summer just don’t get along. Removing excess hair can help your pet stay cool by improving their coat’s natural ventilation. Having your pet groomed can also help cut backon unnecessarily long or dense fur.
Be careful about cutting your pet’s fur too short. If their skin becomes exposed, they risk getting sunburned. And before you grab the clippers for a shave, check with your vet to make sure it’s the right choice for your dog. Some breeds, like Chow Chows, depend on the insulation of their double coat to keep them cool.
3. Water, Water, Water!
Your pet should always have access to clean water. If they hang out in the backyard, be sure to put a water bowl in a shaded location. Add a few ice cubes to provide your pet with a way to cool off from the inside out.
Remember to bring water for both of you and take frequent breaks on walks and hikes. Keeping your dog hydrated will discourage them from drinking water that could contain bacteria and viruses.
4. Watch Out for Heatstroke
Cats and dogs can both suffer from overheating. Unlike humans, they can’t sweat and have to rely on other mechanisms to help cool off, like panting. In the summer heat, this often isn’t enough to bring their body temperature down.
If your pet heats up faster than they can cool down, they may experience heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Also known as hyperthermia, staying too hot for too long damages your pet’s body and organs and can be fatal.
Watch for the following signs:
- Shaking muscles
- Panting excessively
- Red gums and tongue
- Refusal to walk
Never leave your dog or cat locked outdoors without shade or water. If you believe your dog or cat is experiencing heatstroke or is on the verge of it, remove them from the hot environment immediately. Wrap them in a damp, lukewarm towel or place them in a room-temperature shower; do not use cold water as the sudden change could send them into shock. Then seek medical help immediately.
5. Provide a Shady Place to Relax
If your pet joins you in the yard, create an escape from the sun for them. This can be a beach umbrella, a tent, or a spot to relax under an awning. Many pets will seek out shade under bushes and brush.
6. Don’t Forget the Sunblock
This one mostly applies to dogs, unless you have a hairless cat that enjoys sunbathing. Before hiking a nature trail or going out on the boat, apply zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock to your pup’s nose, and anywhere their fur may be thin. The same rules that apply to humans apply here, too: reapply every two hours and after swimming.
7. Adjust Your Schedule
The middle of the day can feel unbearably hot. This is the most dangerous time to leave your pet outside, walk your dog, or play fetch. Instead, embrace a new routine. Let your pet out in the morning before temperatures rise or in the evening as the mercury comes back down. This can significantly reduce the risk of heat stroke and dehydration.
Have Some Fun This Summer!
We can’t wait to hear about your summer adventures during your next appointment. We hope you have a blast this summer while staying hydrated and safe. Stay made in the shade!
Photo Credit: Pexels.