Hot Weather Care Tips for Your Pet

 

We have started to get some hot weather.  Temperatures have already reached the 90s on some days and with our recent rains, the humidity has been up 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 also produce quite a bit of sweat and may take an extra shower.  That works for us but what about our pets?

Dogs and cats don’t have the same options.  They may shed out some coat but still have to cope with a body covered in fur.  They sweat through their paw pads but primarily dissipate body heat by panting. In warm, humid weather, that may not be enough.

So 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 a source of water.
  • 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.  However, there is nothing wrong with a dog run or backyard shelter as long as there is access to shade, water and hopefully a cooling breeze.
  • Jogging – maybe not.   Your dog is in good shape.  He jogs with you all winter long.  However, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to continue the same routine 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, leave the dog 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, the temperature in your car is 109.   At 91 degrees, it is 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 is possible As heat stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma and death may occur.  “Parked car” or brachycephalic breeds such as Bull Dogs, Pugs, Boxers, etc… are more susceptible to heat related problems. Heat stroke isn’t limited to dogs and cats.  Your bunny, chinchilla and even reptiles can suffer heat related problems as well.    Make sure they have shade and plenty of 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 on your own.  Too much cooling and your pet will actually become too cold.  In addition, heat stroke can literally cook internal organs. Pets who have suffered heat stoke may develop swelling and edema of the trachea making it difficult for them to breathe.  IV fluids, supportive care and monitoring are a must. 
  • Other suggestions for a safer summer.  Pet pools are great for helping your buddy cool down but remember to change the water frequently. 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.  Bandanas and body wraps made specifically for cooling can help.  After soaking in cool water, these products can provide relief for a limited time.  Shaving??  That’s up for debate but if you do, remember your pet will be much more likely to sunburn.  Bunnies can benefit from a frozen pop bottle in their cage.  Just make sure to wrap them in a cloth before placing them in with the bunny and watch for chewing on the cloth or bottle.  Cold blooded pets require care on two accounts.  Air conditioning can be TOO COLD and a terrarium that is up against a hot window can easily 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.

 

So, enjoy yourself this summer, but, please remember to keep your pet’s well being in mind too. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 563-391-9522.