Heatstroke and your pets: What you need to know to stay cool this summer
Pet and pet owners alike are looking forward to spending long, warms days basking in the summer sun, but for sun-worshipping cats and dogs, hot weather can also spell disaster.
“Prolonged sun and heat exposure can cause dehydration, which, if left untreated, can quickly become heat stroke,” explains Dr. Chip Coombs. “If not treated rapidly heat stroke can be fatal for your pet.”
Symptoms of overheating can include laboured breathing or excessive panting, noticeable weakness, stumbling or collapsing. As your pet’s body temperature elevates to over 104 degrees, they can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. If you suspect your pet is showing the signs of heat stroke, seek help from your veterinarian immediately.
The best plan for this summer is the one you make to plan ahead and keep your pet safe from heat stroke. Pets Plus Us has compiled the following simple tips for a safe and healthy summer.
In the backyard
Yards without shelter from the sun can be some of the most dangerous places for your pet. Make sure your pet has a shady place to rest, such as under trees or tall shrubs. Remember: as the sun shifts, so does the shade.
Doghouses offer shelter from rain, wind and snow, but in the summer, the sun can turn even the largest doghouses into saunas. Make sure your dog has a shaded spot outside of their kennel, preferably something with a grass base. Concrete or asphalt pads act like sponges for heat, and can burn your dog’s sensitive feet pads.
A light summer haircut will help prevent your dog from overheating. Shave the hair to a one-inch length, but never down to the skin; your dog’s fur offers protection from the sun. Brushing your cat more often than usual can also help prevent problems caused by excessive heat.
Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins and Pekingese have a hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. This type of dog should be kept under close supervision when playing outside.
One of the best solutions for beating the heat is to fill up a child’s wading pool with clean, fresh water for your dog to cool off in.
At the beach or pool
When at the beach or pool, your dog requires an extra level of supervision - the same care you would give a child.
Dogs, especially those with shorter hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn quickly. Limit your dog's exposure to sunlight during the day, especially between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. Apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside. There are many sunblocks made specifically for use on dogs or cats.
Remember, not all beaches allow pets; check local rules before heading out and never leave your dog unattended in the water.
On walks and outings
Pets can become dehydrated quickly. Bring fresh water and a bowl or a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you take a break. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.
Trade warmer afternoon walks for early morning or evening times when the air is cooler and more comfortable for your pet. If you choose to go out during peak sun hours, walk rather than run, take frequent breaks and head home if you notice any signs of lethargy in your dog. Remember that your dog is eager to please and will keep going until you tell him to stop.
In the car
Never leave an animal alone in a parked vehicle.
Even on a 22 °C (70 °F) to 26 °C (80 °F) day when it may feel comfortable outside, the inside of your car can heat up to over 100 °F (38 °C) in minutes, even with the window left a little open.
Leaving your pet in a car with the air conditioning on is also taking a risk, as many pets have died as the result of a faulty air conditioning system. In as little as 10 minutes, your vehicle can reach temperatures that can seriously harm your pet.
Your pet relies on you to take good care of him. So exercise good judgment all year long, and especially during the summer when heat dangers are greatest.