As pet owners, we all want to keep our furry friends safe and healthy. And, with the summer ramping up, pet owners are naturally looking for outdoor activities to enjoy with their pets. While the warm weather brings plenty of fun, the heat and humidity can also take a toll on our pets. In this article, we will cover some tips and strategies to help keep your dogs and cats cool, comfortable, and safe during these warm summer months.
1. Know Your Pet’s Limits: Just like people, dogs and cats have different tolerances for heat and exercise. Factors like breed, age, weight, and overall health can all play a role in how well your pet handles the heat. Be sure to monitor your pet’s behavior and activity levels and adjust accordingly as needed. You should take extra precautions if you have a pet that is brachycephalic (short/squished nose), overweight, or elderly as they will be more sensitive to heat and humidity.
2. Provide Plenty of Water: Make sure your pets always have access to clean, fresh water. Leave multiple water bowls around the house or yard and refill them regularly. You can place the bowls in the shade and add ice cubes to their water bowls to keep the water cool.
3. Keep Them Hydrated: In addition to providing plenty of fresh water, you can also offer your pets hydrating treats like frozen berries, watermelon, or cucumber slices. These snacks can help keep your pets cool and hydrated, while also providing a tasty treat. When mealtime comes, you can add water to your pet’s dry kibble to encourage hydration.
4. Provide Cooling Options: There are several ways to help keep your pets cool during the summer months. Using a cooling mat or bed indoors or a cooling vest when outdoors can help regulate your pet’s body temperature. You can also freeze a water bottle or wet towel and place it in their crate or bed. Another option is to set up a kiddie pool or sprinkler in your yard, which can provide a fun and refreshing way for your pets to cool off.
5. Provide Shade: If your pets are spending time outside, make sure they have access to shade. Trees, umbrellas, or shade cloths are great options to provide a cool spot for your pets to relax.
6. Avoid Overexertion: It is best to exercise your pets during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Avoid exercising them during the hottest part of the day, as they can quickly become overheated and dehydrated.
7. Avoid Hot Surfaces: Asphalt and concrete surfaces can become extremely hot and can burn your pet’s paws. Try to walk your dog on grassy areas or use booties to protect their paws.
8. Watch for Signs of Heatstroke: Symptoms of heatstroke in pets include excessive panting, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them into a cool area, offer water, and contact your veterinarian immediately.
9. Consider Indoor Exercise: If it’s simply too hot to exercise your pets outside, consider indoor activities like playing fetch in a large, air-conditioned room, or setting up an obstacle course in your living room. You can also try puzzle toys or treat-dispensing toys to keep your pet mentally stimulated.
10. Keep Them Groomed: Regular grooming can help keep your pets cool during the summer months. Brushing their fur helps to remove excess fur and keeps their skin ventilated.
11. Protect Them from Sunburn: Pets with light-colored fur, thin coats, or exposed skin are at risk of sunburn. Apply pet-safe sunscreen to their nose, ears, and other exposed areas.
12. Protect Against Parasites: Summertime is prime season for fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Make sure your pets are up to date on their flea and tick prevention medication and check them regularly for signs of infestation. You can also help reduce the risk of ticks and fleas by keeping your lawn and yard well-maintained.
13. Avoid Leaving Pets in Cars: It’s never safe to leave your pet in a parked car, even for a few minutes. On a warm day, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels, even with the windows cracked. If you need to run errands, leave your pets at home in a cool, shaded area.
14. Practice Water Safety: If you take your pets swimming or boating, make sure they are wearing a life jacket. Even if your pet is a strong swimmer, unexpected currents or waves can be dangerous. It’s also a good idea to rinse your pet off with fresh water after swimming in a pool or lake, as chlorine, salt, and other chemicals can irritate their skin.
By following these tips, you can help keep your furry friends safe and comfortable during the warm summer months. Remember, your pets rely on you to provide for their needs, so take the necessary precautions to keep them healthy and happy!
Dr. Paige Roberts is co-owner and veterinarian of The Anywhere Vet, a fully mobile veterinary hospital based out of Grasonville. For more information, visit www.TheAnywhereVet.com and like the business on Facebook or Instagram. Have questions? Call 410-443-4114.
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