Summertime, and the living is - - well, hotter than Hell and half of Georgia, to be honest. As temperatures soar into the triple digits, it’s imperative that we keep our pets cool and safe, so here’s 7 hot weather safety tips to help you do just that.
- Leave pets at home. Dogs cool themselves by panting, which precipitates convection; that is, their panting exchanges warm body temperature for cooler air outside. If the outside air isn’t significantly cooler than their body temp, their cooling system doesn’t work and they can get heatstroke. Studies show that on a 75 degree day, temps inside a car (with windows cracked) can raise to 100 degrees in 10 minutes. Temps in dark colored cars can rise even more, reaching temps of 200 degrees! Is taking Fifi with you to the market worth risking her life? Didn’t think so.
- Keep plenty of fresh water accessible in deep bowls. All that heavy breathing takes a toll. Dogs lose lose moisture much faster than humans, so they should always have access to fresh, cool water. Deep bowls of cool water will stay chilled longer than shallow bowls, and you can also add ice to prolong the chill.
- Avoid burnt paws. If the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, well guess what -- it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Always check the pavement before bringing your dog outside. If you can’t avoid walking your dog across hot pavement, invest in a product that protects his feet. If your dog doesn’t like the feel of protective coverings such as boots, try a topical product such as Musher's Secret, which creates a protective wax barrier between your dog’s paws and any surface they touch.
- Be sensible about exercise. *Exercise early in the morning or late at night when the sun’s intensity is less. Even then, watch for signs of heat stress, some of which can include: excessive panting, increased salivation, glassy eyes, and pale gums. To keep bored dogs occupied during the day, try making a “pupsicle”. It will help keep your dog cool and occupied for hours. Check out our pinterest board for more ideas.
- Maintain their coat. A shaggy coat can actually help insulate your dog against the heat. If you have a thick-coated dog or cat, try FURminating them. The FURminator pet brush removes thick undercoat while leaving the outer coat which insulates and protects their skin from sunburn. As long as air can circulate through the fur, this will help keep your pet cool.
- Keep up on flea prevention. Ideally, your dog or cat should already be on a monthly flea preventative because it’s much harder to eradicate fleas from your home after they’ve already started to reproduce. Flea larvae is practically bulletproof, and get this - - vacuuming actually encourages them to hatch! If you are nervous about using flea medications containing Fipronil and other ingredients, there are now all-natural lines you can try. Consult with your veterinary office for recommendations.
- Do you suspect heatstroke? If you think your pet has overheated, place cool (not ice cold, as this can do more harm!), wet washcloths on his head and neck, and cool compresses on his belly and under his back legs. Call your vet’s office immediately and seek their advice about next steps. Heatstroke can quickly lead to coma, cardiac arrest, and death, so don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
*A brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed may have a harder time cooling themselves in hot weather. Owners of flat-faced breeds like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, pekinese etc., should keep exercise to a minimum and take extra care to keep their dogs cool.
The Michelson Found Animals Foundation's mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.