We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but hot weather can spell danger. By following a few simple rules, it is easy to keep your pet safe while still having fun in the sun! Take these simple precautions to help prevent your pet from overheating. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.
Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.
Know the Warning Signs
Symptoms of over-heating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. If you believe your pet is suffering from heatstroke, it could be a matter of life or death- contact a veterinarian immediately!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time-even with the windows open-which could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.
At the Beach
Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water. Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog's exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Running on the sand is strenuous exercise, and a dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog's activity. Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog's coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day. Maui County requires that all dogs be leashed at the beach unless in the water- be sure to comply!
Make a Safe Splash
Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog's preferences and skills before trying to make him swim. If you're swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with. Never throw your dog into the water!
Don't let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly. If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides and try to prevent your dog from drinking ocean water, which can cause severe dehydration. If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown. Never leave your dog unattended in water!
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
Taking Fido to a backyard barbeque or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
Fireworks Aren't Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.
Check out the links below to find out what else you can do to keep your pet safe during the summer months!
AAHA - Summer Pet Care
Print out this HSUS flyer tospread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in cars during hot weather!
Whip up a batch of peanut butter popsicles as a refreshing summer dog treat!
Vets Promote Summer Safety to Pet Owners