Summer is full of opportunities to enjoy your pet’s company—from mountain hikes, to dips in the lake, to backyard games of fetch, to cuddle sessions in the cool house. But excessive heat can endanger your pet, so ensure they stay cool during all your outdoor summer adventures. Here are our Associated Veterinary Medical Center team’s 10 heat-beating tips.
#1: Switch up your pet’s walk schedule
Daily walks are essential for your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, but you need to adjust the time of day when you walk your pet in extremely hot weather. The temperature is highest mid-day, so plan to walk your pet in the cooler early mornings or late evenings. You may also need to reduce the length and intensity of your pet’s walk to prevent them from overheating. Take plenty of water for yourself and your pet, and take frequent water breaks to keep you both hydrated. If the outside temperature feels too hot, you can skip your pet’s walk that day, and opt for indoor activities.
#2: Protect your pet’s paw pads
The ground temperature is cooler in the early mornings or late evenings, but you should still test the pavement before walking your pet. If you place the back of your hand against the ground, and you cannot hold your hand there for 10 seconds, the ground is too hot for your pet’s paw pads, and you should wait till later, to prevent your pet from being burned.
#3: Seek shade for your pet
If you and your pet relax in the yard, ensure your pet has access to shade.
- Trees — Trees provide natural shade, but watch that your pet does not lose their shade as the sun moves.
- Shade sails — Shade sales provide large areas of shade with lots of air flow.
- Catios — Outdoor cat enclosures provide your cat with shade and safety.
- Pergolas or awnings — Pergolas and awnings are more permanent versions of the shade sail, and provide easily accessible year-round shade.
- Shade on the go — When walking outdoors with your pet, look for tree-lined, shady trails or use a shade umbrella.
#4: Keep you your pet’s water flowing
Pets, like people, need plenty of water to stay hydrated and cool in the summer heat, especially when they are outside or extremely active. Ensure your pet has access to fresh, cool water throughout the day. Adding ice cubes or a little low-sodium broth will encourage your pet to drink often.
#5: Help your pet swim safely
Swimming can not only cool off your pet on a hot day, but also provide aerobic exercise. However, your pet must always be supervised in the water, regardless of their athletic abilities. Consider a pet life vest for added protection, because pets can easily tire after long periods of swimming no matter how well they swim, and less confident swimmers will feel protected by the floating ability they have with a life vest.
#6: Know overheating signs in pets
Like people, pets can suffer from heatstroke, which requires immediate attention, so you must know what to look for and be able to act quickly. Common heatstroke signs include:
- Excessive panting or drooling
- Extreme thirst
- Bright red tongue
- Pale gums
- Increased heart rate
- Convulsion or collapse
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, immediately bring them indoors, wet them down with cool—never cold—water and wet towels, and seek veterinary treatment.
#7: Leave your pets at home
While you likely are tempted to take your pet when you run errands, temperatures in a parked car—despite being parked in the shade, with the windows rolled down—can quickly rise to dangerous levels. During the hot summer months, leave your furry friend home if your destinations are not pet-friendly.
#8: Use pet-friendly sunscreen
For most pets, their fur provides adequate sun protection, but light-haired and furless pets are susceptible to sunburn. Certain body areas of all pets also are more likely to burn, including:
- Ear tips
Sunscreen can protect your pet from sunburn, but always use a product formulated specifically for pets.
#9: Make tasty frozen pet treats
If you’re looking for a fun and tasty way to keep your pet cool this summer, you can find many healthy frozen treats online that will keep your pet entertained and feeling good. Or, you can keep things simple with the following snacks:
- Ice cubes flavored with beef or chicken broth
- Frozen veggies
- Frozen xylitol-free peanut butter in a Kong
#10: Ensure protection from fleas & ticks!
Summer is also parasite season, so ensure your pet is protected against fleas & ticks! Schedule a wellness exam for your pet to discuss parasite preventative medications.
Take every opportunity to have fun with your pet this summer, but do not hesitate to contact Associated Veterinary Medical Center should your pet experience a heat-related emergency. Also, remember to schedule your pet’s wellness exam, and then, enjoy your summer!