Your pets may feel the heat this summer more than you realize.
Because dogs and cats don’t sweat, their ability to cool down is more limited than ours.
Dangers of Hot Weather
Animals are susceptible to dehydration, heat stress and heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a condition that occurs when a dog or cat’s body temperature is over 106°. (Normal temperature is around 102° for dogs, 101 -102° for cats.)
Symptoms include excessive panting, increased heart rate, vomiting and disorientation. This is an emergency situation as heatstroke can cause brain and organ damage and even death.
Fast Cooldown Essential
If you suspect heatstroke, get the animal out of the heat immediately. Cool him down with a hose or wet towels. Do not use ice or ice water, and do not bring body temperature down to less than 104° degrees. Take the animal to the vet immediately, even if you have successfully cooled it off. Some problems caused by heatstroke will not be readily observed.
Animals can also get sunburned. Pets with white coats or pink skin are most vulnerable. Use a pet-safe sunscreen on the animal if it will be out in the sun for extended periods of time.
Here are some more tips on keeping your pets cool and safe this summer.
If you leave your dog outside during the day, make sure it is in an area with plenty of shade. Natural shade is better than artificial, but keep in mind that the area of shade may change with the position of the sun.
Some dogs will dig to make a cool spot; so protect or deny access to your garden beds. Cats may also find the garden a nice cool retreat, especially if it has recently been watered.
The easiest and best way to keep your cats cool in summer is to keep them in the house. They will find the coolest spot to sleep. It may be the garage floor, the bathtub or just a dark corner.
Some cats, however, may need to be placed in a cool spot. They may fall asleep in the sun or in other very warm areas and overheat in their sleep.
Make sure your pets have access to plenty of clean water at all times, whether in or out of the house. They may even enjoy an ice cube or two added to the water.
If you have trouble keeping the dog’s water dish full, there are many automatic products available, from dispensers that attach directly to a faucet to self-filling bowls.
Suds ‘Em Yourself
This is a great opportunity to give your dogs a bath. If you have a large dog, bathing them outside is so much easier than trying to do it in the tub.
They may not even mind the cool water from the hose this time of year. Just be sure to let the water run until it is cool enough – water sitting in a hose in the sun all day can be scalding hot!
If your dog doesn’t like the hose or the cold water, try running the hot water into some buckets, them mix with cold until it is the right temperature. I have often found that if the hose sits for a few minutes while I soap the dog and rinse with the bucket water that the water in the hose is warm enough for a final rinse.
If you are using flea soap for the bath, leave it on the dog for 5 or 10 minutes before rinsing. You can also finish up with a lemon rinse for longer protection.
Wet T-Shirt Contest Anyone?
Your dog might enjoy wearing an old tee shirt or bandana that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out. They dry out quickly, so it is only a temporary measure, but it will keep him cool while you’re walking or playing together.
Another option is a mat filled with a special cooling gel. According to the manufacturer, this mat will stay around 65° for three days after a short soak in water.
Take if Easy
Some dogs don’t know when to stop when they are having a good time. It is best not to let them exercise too much in the heat of the day. Save the workouts for the cool of the early morning or late evening.
Certain breeds or types of dogs and cats may have a harder time in the heat. These include dogs bred for cold weather such as Huskies; and cats and dogs with short noses such as Persians, Pugs and Boxers.
Very young animals, older pets and overweight animals will all be more sensitive to the heat, as will animals with certain health problems, such as heart or lung disease.
Take A Dip
Many dogs enjoy swimming. Be sure that dogs are allowed before you take them to public beaches or swimming holes. And be sure to put them back on leash when they come out of the water.
Be aware of fast currents and other water safety issues. Don’t let your dog swim in areas that are considered unsafe. Cold water can also be a danger, as the dog will tire more easily. Keep an eye on the dog at all times while he is swimming, and call him back in before he gets tired.
Flotation devices are available for dogs that will keep them safe in rough or cold water.
Warning – Danger!
Never leave your dog or cat in a car in the heat of the summer. Even if you leave the windows partially open, the temperature in the car can reach 120° degrees or more in no time.
Leave the animals at home unless they will be out of the car when you are.
Don’t forget the water if you are traveling with the pets. You can use covered containers and open them whenever you stop, or bowls made for travel that are non-spill. There are also many water bottles made for pets that can be carried along on walks and outings.
Remember, summer is short, so enjoy it! Keep cool, use common sense, and keep everyone happy and safe.
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