Summer safety: 5 tips to keep your pets safe in the summer heat
Anyone else feel like the summers keep getting hotter each year? I love the warm weather and actually prefer the summer days. And so do all of my animals! My dogs love to swim and my cat roams the house chasing the warmest sunbeam he can find. But the heat can be dangerous to us and to our animal companions. Here are 5 tips to keep your fur baby safe for the rest of the summer!
1. Monitor heat & humidity
It isn’t just the bright sunshine that affects our animals; it is the rise in humidity. Dogs rely on panting to cool themselves. As the air is whisked over their tongue, it provides a cooling effect. Cats cool themselves during grooming. As their saliva evaporates it provides a cooling effect to the body. Both of these cooling mechanisms require evaporation and if the humidity is high (even if the temperature isn’t) these cooling mechanisms become less efficient.
2. Find a shady spot & hydrate
I live close to the beach and every summer I see people with their dogs on the beach without water and without any way to escape the sun. The dog is panting ferociously in attempt to cool his body with no shade available and no water to drink. It scares me when I see this! It really is best to save outdoor activities for the early morning and late afternoon; however, If you bring your dog to the beach or anywhere outdoors during the day, provide plenty of water and shade. Outdoor cats should have shade available to them and plenty of cold water.
3. Avoid hot surfaces
A common misconception: the pads of the paws are thick and provide protection from the hot ground. Wrong! The paw pads work as shock absorbers for the joints in the legs, and they help our pets to navigate slippery surfaces. Paw pads are very vulnerable to burns, and your dog and cat have no way to tell you that their feet are on fire. If it is too hot for you to walk barefoot then it is too hot for your pet.
4. Water safety
Usually about once a year I see a drowning case. It is the worst. Please be aware of the level of activity your pet has endured. I have 2 dogs who will push past their threshold swimming and playing fetch. They will. not. stop. It is my job to bring them into the air conditioning or the shade, make them take a rest, and offer cold water to drink. It is ALWAYS a good idea to get a life vest fitted for your dog, even if they are a strong swimmer. If you take your dog boating, it is a necessity.
5. Never leave your dog or cat in the car
It seems these stories never end. I continually hear on the news about animals being left in hot cars. Did you know the temperature in your car will rise 20° in 10 minutes? And by 1 hour, the temperature inside your car can reach 40° higher than the outside temperature? Even if you park in the shade, even if you leave the windows rolled down, it is not safe!
I hope you learned something new about hot weather and how it relates to your pets. Let’s enjoy the rest of this summer by keeping our pets safe and cool!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM