The hottest of summer days are brutal, causing us to seek shelter in shade or refuge in air-conditioned spaces. But even those days when the weather makes the outdoors inviting to people may pose risks to pets’s health and comfort. Research, preparation, and mindfulness will help you keep your pet cool, happy and healthy during summer. Start with these essential tips for enjoying the outdoors with your pets’s health and comfort in mind.
Know your breed’s needs
Cats and dogs with thin, short coats and those with roots in warmer climates tend to tolerate heat better than Himalayan cats, huskies, and other cold weather and mountain breeds. But no four-legged pet is immune to heatstroke or paw pad burns. Familiarizing yourself with and staying mindful of your pet’s fitness for summer heat will help you keep your pet cool during summer.
Avoid the heat of day
One of the most effective strategies for keeping your pet cool on hot days is to play outdoors early before the sun gets strong and again after it sets. Quick bathroom breaks during the day are fine, but avoid long walks and visits to dog parks under the scorching sun. Outdoor activity during the heat of day can increase your pet’s risk of dehydration or heat exhaustion. Be especially mindful of this on weekends and holidays. And if a dog walker helps care for your pet while you’re at the office, make sure he or she is aware of your pet’s tolerance for heat and any precautions you take to keep your pet cool when the temperatures rise.
Protect those paws
Just because our furry friends are less susceptible to sunburn than we are doesn’t mean they require less shade. Strong summer sun bakes sidewalks, sand, and other surfaces, which can burn the pads of your pet’s paws. If you think a surface might be too hot for your dog’s paws, check it with your hand before walking on it. When the sun is high, stick to shaded areas or bring insulation booties for protection against hot pavement.
Don’t leave your pet unattended in the car
Unless your destination is pet-friendly, leave your pet at home when driving somewhere on hot days. Even with the windows cracked for fresh air, the temperature inside parked cars can rise rapidly in summer heat.
Keep your pet hydrated
Encourage healthy hydration by frequently checking, cleaning, and refilling your pet’s water bowl or switching to an auto-fill system. When venturing out with your pet for anything longer than a short walk, bring clean drinking water and a dish or container from which your pet can easily drink. If you’re worried your pet isn’t drinking enough, add ice cubes to the bowl. This makes drinking water more appealing to most pets, especially dogs.
Watch for signs of heat exhaustion
Panting is often the first noticeable signs of heat exhaustion in pets, which can lead to heatstroke. If your dog or cat starts panting on a hot day, seek shade or move indoors and encourage your pet to drink water. If the rapid breathing doesn’t subside, or is accompanied by staggering, muscle tremors, or signs of fatigue, contact your veterinarian. It’s also smart to take your pet’s temperature. 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit is average for healthy dogs and cats. Temperatures above 104 degrees usually warrant veterinary visits.
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