Summer Safety Tips for Pet Parents
Wow! It’s getting hot out there! Temperatures are already hitting the 80’s on some days and the humidity has increased as well. At our house, we cope by switching to shorts and light t-shirts, drinking lots of water and taking breaks indoors or in the shade. We produce quite a bit of sweat and take extra showers. That works for us but what about our pets? Read our summer safety tips to help keep your best friend healthy.
What can you do to make summer more comfortable and safer for your pet?
- Provide lots of fresh water. Make sure it is in a container that can’t be overturned by mistake and that there is enough to last all day. In addition, if you use a zip line or some other type of tether you need to make double sure your pet can’t become entangled and unable to reach either shade or his or her water source.
- Indoors or out. Is there a place where your pet can stay cool and out of the sun? That may mean keeping your pet indoors in the air conditioning in the summer. However, there is nothing wrong with a dog run or backyard shelter providing there is access to shade, water and hopefully a cooling breeze.
- Jogging – maybe not. I know that your dog is in good shape. He jogs with you all winter long. However, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to continue jogging with Rover in the summer heat. Remember, dogs can’t cool themselves like we do. Add that to the fact that your loyal companion will keep going no matter how hot he/she gets and you have a recipe for disaster. Unless you run early in the day, long, before the heat sets in, please leave your dog at home.
- Never leave your pet in the car! Want to know why? Check out this data compiled by the Animal Protection Institute. If your car is closed with no open windows and it is 82 degrees outdoors, in no time at all, the temperature in your car is 109. At 91 degrees, it’s 115 in the car. Think cracking the windows help? If it is 84 degrees outside the temperature in the car is still 98 degrees. At 90 degrees, it is 108 in the car. Got the picture? Even leaving your pet in the car while you run in for a short errand can be deadly.
- What are the signs of heat stroke? You may see excessive panting, stumbling, weakness, stupor and bright red gums. Body temperatures of 104 degrees or more can occur. As heat stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma and death may follow. “Parked car” or brachycephalic breeds such as Bull Dogs, Pugs, Boxers and others are much more susceptible to heat related problems. Even your bunny, chinchilla or reptiles can suffer from heat related problems. If the weather is warm, think shade and water.
- If you suspect heat stroke – it’s an emergency! Hose your pet down and bring him/her to the clinic immediately! Don’t try to treat heatstroke on your own. Heatstroke can literally cook internal organs. Pets who have suffered heat stoke may also experience swelling and edema of the trachea making it difficult for them to breathe. Too much cooling can make your pet even sicker. It’s a balance of IV fluids, supportive care and monitoring. Leave it to the professionals.
- Pet pools – are great for helping your buddy cool down in the summer heat but remember to change the water frequently. If you are lucky enough to have a people sized pool, treat your pets just like your children. Protect them from accidental drowning by never leaving them in the pool area unsupervised.
- Cool Ideas – Think about getting a pet fountain that provides a continuous stream of fresh, cool water to drink. Fans can help where air conditioning isn’t available. Recently, bandanas and body wraps made specifically for cooling have been developed. After soaking in cool water, these products can provide relief for a limited time. Frozen pop bottles are fun for pets to play with in the pool or on the ground. Even bunnies can benefit from a frozen pop bottle in their cage. Just make sure to wrap it in a cloth before placing it in with your rabbit but don’t let bunny start chewing on the cloth or bottle.
- Shaving?? – That’s up for debate but if you do, remember your pet will be much more likely to sunburn in the summer sun. Double coated breeds do best when their undercoat is brushed out leaving their guard hair. This allows trapped air to cool your pet.
- Exotic tips – Cold blooded pets need warm weather care too. Air conditioning can be TOO COLD for many exotics BUT a terrarium placed up against a hot window may become an oven. This applies to birds as well. Too much draft and cold will result in upper respiratory problems. Too much heat can cause heat stroke and death.