Summer Pet Care Safety Tips
Keep your pets hydrated!
When the weather heats up, your pets need more water to regulate their body temperature and stay hydrated. Make sure their water bowls are regularly cleaned and filled daily with cool water. Higher temperatures can also accelerate the growth of bacteria in standing water running the risk of infection and illness. Thirsty pets can also go looking elsewhere if their usual water source is empty, often coming in contact with hazardous liquids (antifreeze, chemicals...).
Do not leave your pets in the car.
When running errands in the summer, PLEASE leave your dog at home! Your car can turn into an oven in just a minute or two, even when parked in the shade with windows partially opened. When the sun hits a car on an 80 degree day, it takes just 15 minutes for the temperature inside to reach 130 degrees, even with the windows slightly open.
Exercise early in the day.
During the summer months, dog walking should take place in the cooler, early morning hours. In the evenings, even after the sun has gone down, the ground and pavement are still very hot and may burn the pads of your pup's feet. A good rule of thumb is to test the heat on the pavement with the palm of your hand. If it feels too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog's feet.
Protect your pup's pads.
Whenever possible, stand on shaded surfaces or grass when outdoors with your dog. Asphalt and concrete absorb heat and will burn footpads.
Teach your dog pool safety.
Not all dogs know how to swim, or are comfortable in the water. Always introduce your dog to the pool, teaching him how to swim, and how to get out of the pool. Often pets that enjoy the water can still be at risk if they cannot easily and quickly find the stairs or know how to get out. (Pool ramps can be purchased to assist your dog if pool steps are too steep).
As with small children, dogs should never be left unsupervised around a pool. Certain breeds (snub-nosed dogs, large head and barrel chested dogs, short-legged dogs) are not good swimmers, and senior dogs, puppies, overweight dogs, or ill or medicated dogs are all at higher risk. Be warned that even very strong swimmer breeds such as Labrador Retrievers can get into trouble if they overexert themselves.
Skip the really short haircut.
Don't shave off all your dog's hair! You may think that fur is hotter, but a pet's fur actually helps insulate him from the heat and help prevent sunburn. Try a light trim instead.
If your dog does spend time outside in your yard, filling a hard-sided plastic kiddie pool with water will enable your dog to drink from it, or walk or lie down in it to cool off, especially after walking or playing. Always provide shaded retreats for your dog and keep inside during the warmer parts of the day.
Protect your pet from sunburn.
Yes, many dogs and cats can get sunburned! Just like fair-skinned people, white-haired dogs and cats are more sensitive to sun exposure. It is important to keep them inside on very sunny days and talk to you veterinarian about the occasional use of sunscreen.
Know the signs of heatstroke.
It can happen quickly and is often fatal! If your dog experiences any of these symptoms after playing or exercising, or exposure to heat, get immediate medical help. This is an emergency!
- Loud, excessive, continuous panting
- Profuse salivation
- High fever (normal temperature for dogs is approximately 101 degrees)
- Restless pacing
- Inside of the mouth may become dry and red or purple
- Eyes glazing over
- Difficulty standing or walking
Use common sense and caution.
Dogs cannot cool themselves as efficiently as people can. If it feels hot for you, it is hotter and potentially much more dangerous for your dog. When in doubt, keep your dogs inside a cool home on very hot days. Make this a fun and safe summer for you and your beloved pets.