How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Hot Weather
Having a pet can give you great joy, but it also comes with serious responsibilities. Your pet’s wellness depends on you. He or she should get the right amount of exercise, healthy food, and lots of attention. Other things like grooming, spaying or neutering, and obedience training will further enhance your pet’s health and overall wellbeing.
During hot weather, you’ll have yet another duty: making sure your pet doesn’t suffer from heat-related conditions.
Just like people, animals can have heat stroke, heat exhaustion and many other symptoms related to exposure to extreme heat: nausea, fatigue, lethargy, and dehydration, just to name a few.
There are several things you can do in order to protect your pet from these dangerous conditions:
- If possible, keep pets inside on extremely hot days, or make sure they have a cool, shady place to lie when the sun is bearing down. Just like you wouldn’t want to sit in the blazing sun all day without shade, your pet doesn’t want to, either. Light-colored animals can blister just like humans. Also, make sure that they have access to fresh water at all times.
- Get regular checkups for your pet, preferably in the spring or early summer. In addition to making sure that your dog is healthy enough to endure the coming hot weather, your vet can also give you suggestions about avoiding fleas and ticks in the summer months, and you can pick up some preventative heartworm medication if your pet isn’t already taking some. If your pet could benefit from losing a few pounds, the vet can tell you that as well.
- Educate yourself and family members about the symptoms of overheating in pets. For most, this includes anything from weakness to complete collapse. Your pet may experience an increased heart rate, panting, heavy breathing or difficulty breathing. You will be able to tell the difference between his or her normal breathing pattern, especially when you see other symptoms.
- Pay special attention to animals with certain conditions. Young animals and older ones are more susceptible to the heat than an average adult dog. Animals that have flat faces are not able to pant as effectively as long-faced animals. Pets that are overweight and those that have pre-existing medical conditions should get extra attention during the summer.
- Be careful about hot surfaces. You don’t realize how hot your car can get or how quickly asphalt can burn an animal’s feet. Leaving your pet in a car during the summer is illegal in many states because it can be so detrimental, and hot asphalt could easily burn your pet’s feet after only a minute or two.
- Don’t let your pet swim unsupervised. You may think your pet is a natural swimmer, but you should make sure before leaving them in an area with water that is over their head. Even pets that are good swimmers shouldn’t be left unattended around pools, ponds and rivers. Introduce your pet to the water gradually, starting with water that isn’t very deep to see how they like it.
- Never shave a pet. Trimming is ok, but their fur is actually designed to protect their skin from burning and their bodies from overheating. We may look at a shaggy dog and think he’s miserable, but in reality his coat is keeping him cooler than he would be without it. Over-grooming cats is harmful as well. Continue your regular grooming routine during the summertime.
There are other dangers during the summer months that aren’t necessarily related to heat, but to the time of year. Fireworks pose a burn risk to your pets, plus they may scare an animal and make them nervous about public events in the future.
Additionally, there are poisonous chemicals used exclusively during the summer, including pesticides, weed killers and fertilizers. Many people don’t realize that many typical cookout foods can be dangerous for their pets as well. Alcohol, chocolate and certain fruits are very bad for animals, and any ‘people foods’ run the risk of upsetting your pet’s digestive system.
Finally, be careful when you have windows open in your home, especially if they are more than a few feet off the ground. Pets can easily jump out of a window even if it is covered by a screen. Unscreened windows should never be left open if there are pets in the house, and you should supervise pets around windows and doors that do have screens.
Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your furry, scaled or feathered friend comfortable and safe this summer!