We’re in the heat of summer and even though you may enjoy those hot days lounging by the pool, it doesn’t mean your pet is comfortable being outdoors. There are many heat-related dangers that pet parents may not think about when it comes to what is safe or unsafe for their companion animals. Here are some tips to hopefully avoid any hot weather tragedies:
Never leave your pet in a parked car. Even if you crack the window it isn’t sufficient protection from the heat. A car can turn into an oven in mere minutes which can lead to your pet suffering organ damage, heatstroke or death. Even if parked in the shade, a car’s inside temperature can rapidly soar to a dangerous level.
The Great Indoors
Keep pets inside when temperatures rise. If you’re uncomfortable, the chances are excellent your pet is also uncomfortable.
Even indoor pets can suffer from the heat. Keep your A/C going during the day while you’re gone and don’t rely on fans being able to cool sufficiently when temperatures soar.
Hold the Exercise
Don’t exercise your pet in hot weather. Try to do your walks in the cooler temperatures of the morning or evening.
Make sure animals who are outside have access to shade and water. If you have a dog, don’t depend on the dog house providing shade because there isn’t enough air circulation to cool adequately. Shade should be provided by trees where you also have the benefit of any breezes going by.
Speaking of water, provide clean, fresh water at all times. Even if you have a cat who typically doesn’t drink much water, it needs to be made available to him because he’ll probably drink more in warm weather. Provide more than one water station for multiple pets so water doesn’t run out if you’re not around.
Some animals are more prone to heatstroke. Brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breeds such as pugs, Persian cats and Pekingese are more at risk, as are older pets, those who are overweight and pets with any respiratory or heart conditions.
Hot asphalt surfaces can burn your pet’s paw pads. They also give off more heat than grass surfaces which will make your pet more uncomfortable. If it’s too hot of a surface for your bare foot or hand then it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. When the air temp is 86°F, the asphalt temp is around 135°F.
People aren’t the only ones who can get sunburned. It can happen to pets as well, especially on ear tips and the nose. Ask your veterinarian before putting ANY sunscreen on your dog or cat though because most aren’t safe for pets. Sunblocks containing zinc oxide are toxic to dogs and sunscreens containing salicylates (common in almost all sunscreens) have the same toxic effect as aspirin in cats. The safest sun protection you can use is common sense – bring your pets inside and avoid extended exposure to sun.
Brush your pet regularly to remove dead hair and to prevent mats. When mats form they prevent air from reaching the skin’s surface.
To Shave or not to Shave?
The answer is don’t shave your pet. Fur actually insulates from heat and sunburn. Keep your pet groomed but don’t do a shave-down.
Use common sense. Even though your pet may normally enjoy those car rides or trips to the beach or park, it’s not safe during hot summer days. Your pet will be much more comfortable hanging out on the sofa or carpet in the coolness of your house or apartment.
Remember the Ferals, Strays and outdoor wildlife
Keep your birdbaths filled and provide water stations for feral and stray cats as well. They may have a hard time finding water themselves in hot weather.