Are you and your pets ready for the “Dog Days of Summer?” With the summer heat comes special considerations to remember when traveling outside with your pet. As responsible pet owners, most people know not to leave pets in hot cars or walking on scorching asphalt and provide plenty of water. But there are also some risks you might have overlooked. Here are a few tips on keeping your pet cool and safe this summer.
Avoid the high-noon heat: In-between the hours of 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. are considered the peak heat hours of the day. If you have an older pet or one with a thick coat, consider taking walks or engaging in activities before or after these times of day. Put your hand palm down on the sidewalk or street. If the asphalt is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for pet pads. Walk your dog on the grass whenever possible.
Groom your pet the right way: A dog’s coat is sometimes used for their protection so keep this in mind before your pets get a summer haircut. Trimming is good, but make sure your pet doesn’t get too close of a shave. Remember, dogs CAN get sunburned and the correct dog grooming technique is important!
Provide ample amount of shade and water: Hydration is key. Both inside and outside, pets should have a full water bowl at all times. Water left sitting in the hot sun doesn’t do much good. Pet owners should provide ample amounts of cool (not ice cold) water in shaded areas.
If your dog or cat spends time outside, give them shade and a cool place to lie down. Trees can really cool down a summer backyard while also providing shelter from the sun as can awnings and umbrellas.
Know the symptoms of dehydration or overheating: monitor your pet for symptoms including excessive panting or difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, abnormaly colored gums, increased heart and respiratory rate, body temperature over 104 degrees or inability to urinate. If you notice your pet in a stupor or being too weak to stand, bring it inside immediately and contact your veterinarian. Further symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.
If your cat or dog is snub-nosed (brachycephalic), they are even more susceptible to dehydration because they need to breathe more to cool down that other breeds. Some examples of snub-nosed breeds are Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier, Shih Tzu and Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair cats.
Avoid flying unless your dog or cat is small: Most all airlines will refuse to fly a live animal in the cargo hold if temperatures exceed 85 degrees F (30 degrees C). This restriction can inconvenience your summer travels; however, it is for the safety of your pet. Danger from high temperatures does not come when your pet’s flight is airborne. Pets are most at risk when waiting to be boarded in airline luggage areas and cargo facilities. Know too that live animals are last to load and first to unload so they can spend time on the tarmac. High temperatures can cause their body temperatures to increase quickly.
Is your lawn pet friendly? In 2010, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received more than 4,000 calls related to garden toxins. These include herbicides, plants (hydrangea, tulips, azaleas, and lilies), insecticides, mushrooms, fertilizers and cocoa mulch. Weed killers, herbicides, and fertilizers are toxic and can even cause cancer. All a dog or cat has to do is walk on the lawn and lick its paws to be exposed. Store all these products where your pet cannot reach them.
Monitor your pet around a pool: Some dogs like the water and others don’t. Regardless of which type of dog (or cat) your have, accidents happen and you always want to be alert to your pet’s actions when in or around a pool. If your pet becomes disoriented in the pool and cannot find the steps, then it can panic and tire itself out.
Watch for ticks, fleas and other critters: Hot weather can also bring parasites that can be a health hazard and certainly cause discomfort to your dog and cat. Be sure they are treated with products that protect them from both internal (heartworm) and external (fleas and ticks) parasites. Your veterinarian can help you with selecting the proper medication.
Now that summer’s in full swing it’s more important than ever to keep your pet cool and in the heat for only limited intervals. Remember your pet cannot tell you when they are overheated so make sure to watch their demeanor and keep your pet cool and safe this summer.
Now get outside and enjoy the summer with your pet.
For more info on traveling with your pet click here.