After a long winter and a spring thaw, we’re eager to get back out into the sunshine and enjoy the long days and warm nights with neighbors, friends and family. And for many of us, “family” includes our pets.
In fact, including your pets in your summer activities is healthy fun for everyone. But when the summer heat and humidity start to rise, it’s important to understand how pets are affected by the spike in temperature and take the necessary precautions to keep them cool and comfortable.
H2O is a Pet’s Best Friend:
Unlike humans, dogs and cats have few sweat glands, which hinder them from cooling off by sweating. Instead, they lose heat and moisture from their tongues by panting. This water loss needs to be replaced, so it’s important to keep some fresh drinking water available at all times. This is especially important when you take them out for long summer walks or car rides.
Don’t Park Your Pet:
Never leave your pet alone in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. The air in a parked car doesn’t circulate and, even in the shade, the temperature in a vehicle will start to rise and become life threatening in just a few minutes.
Rules for Pools:
Getting together at your backyard pool to swim, have fun and cool off is a great summertime tradition. But the pool can be dangerous for adults, children and pets unless safety is observed at all times. You should always be cautious when your pets are in or around the pool, especially if they’re older and can’t get in and out of the pool as easily as they used to. Some manufacturers produce ramps to allow pets an easy escape from an accidental fall into the water, and remember to empty after each use. Pools left full overnight are terrific breeding grounds for parasites.
Block That Sun:
It may be surprising to learn that pets with light-colored skin and hair can get sunburned. In fact, extensive time in the sun can even result in skin cancer. If you are going to be in a situation where your pet will be spending a long time outside on a hot, sunny day, talk to your veterinarian about using specially developed sun block for pets on unprotected areas like the nose and ears.
Make Some Shade:
If you keep your pet outside, be mindful of the fact that a cool spot in the morning can turn scorching hot by mid-afternoon. Be sure to always have a comfortable, sheltered area available that they can retreat to for their rest. A kiddie pool in the shade can provide relief on those scorching summer days. Summer can be a particularly difficult time because overweight dogs and cats can overheat faster as extra layers of fat act as insulation, trapping heat and restricting breathing.
Grooming is Cool:
Common sense would lead you to believe that animals with longer hair would be cooler in the summer if you gave them a “haircut”. However, just as a pet’s coat insulates against cold, it also insulates against heat. Be sure to brush your pet’s hair regularly to get rid of mats and tangles and remove loose undercoat. The more you brush, the more the hair “breathes”.
High Noon is No Time for Exercising:
If you’re used to taking your dog for a walk during mid-day, it would be wise to change your schedule during summer to early morning or late afternoon walks with fresh water always at hand. Hot pavement can burn a dog’s pads, and walking outdoors during the hottest time of the day can lead to heat stress. After the summer is over, feel free to return to your usual schedule.
I've been a groomer for almost 15 years. After working for big corporations and veterinary hospitals I have found the peace of working for myself and at home. Here are some of the things that happen, and tips on how to care for your pet.