As summertime is here and as the warm temperatures linger throughout the day and night, it's important to keep yourself and your dog well hydrated and cool. Both cats and dogs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke - a potentially life-threatening condition. Here are some helpful tips to make your pet's summer cooler and more enjoyable.
- Never leave your pet in a hot car even for a few minutes. If the temperature outside is a balmy 75, the temperature inside the car is 118! Even when the windows are cracked, your car quickly becomes like an oven.
- If you and your pet are outside, please make sure to provide some shade. Trees are better than doghouses for shade because they let air flow through.
- Because we wear shoes, we do not notice how hot asphalt or even concrete can get. Protect your pooch's paw pads by walking on dirt or grass, or sticking to early morning and late evening walks. Even if your pet is in great shape, they can't cool themselves as well as we can. In order to cool down, a dog relies on the sweat glands in his paw pads. Mid-day runs may have to wait until winter.
- Leave a large bowl of water outside, preferably one that is not metal as it may become warm quickly. If you're both going out to run errands, bring some fresh water for your dog as well.
- Get him a cooling vest. If it's really warm, a cooling vest with cold packs built into the sides will make sure your dog stays comfortable and cool even on a long hike.
- Never use ice to cool your dog down as it may lower their temperature too quickly and constrict blood flow, which will actually inhibit the body from cooling. Instead, let them cool off in a pool or soak their feet in cool (but not icy) water.
- Talk to your vet or groomer to see if a haircut will give your dog a cool summer look. Depending on the breed, a dog's long coat may actually keep him warmer in the winter and provide insulation in the summer. Additionally, a dog's long coat may keep him from getting sunburn or help protect from skin cancer. A "trim" may be appropriate but it is best not to cut a dog's hair down to the skin or try to cut the dog's hair with scissors.
- If your pet is alone during the day, leave the air conditioner on or keep a fan going.
- Take extra care of flat-faced dogs and cats. Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, and Persian cats have more difficulty cooling their bodies due to their short snouts.
- Although ice cream is not good for pets, consider pupsicles.
- Make sure your dog's shots are up-to-date especially in the summer when the parvo-virus can be prominent.
Signs of Heat Stroke
- Excessive panting and salivation
- Trouble breathing
- Bloody diarrhea
- Very dark urine concentrated in color
- Dry chapped nose
- Dark or bright red tongues and gums
What to do if your pet has heatstroke:
- Immediately call your veterinarian
- Move your pet to a cooler area
- Avoid sudden cooling (like putting your pet in an ice bath)
- Apply isopropyl alcohol 70% to their foot pads, place a cool damp towel on their back, and allow them to drink small amounts of water
One of the best activities for you and your dog to beat the summer heat is swimming. It's a great way to beat the heat! If a swimming pool is not nearby, even a kiddie pool will help cool your dog down.
Have a fun summer!