Summer weather is here! As you take certain precautions to keep yourself healthy and comfortable during the hot season, do not forget about your furry friend! Even on days that don’t seem that hot to you, your pet could be at risk for heat stroke. Take these precautions this summer to keep Fido healthy and safe:
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
So important, it bears repeating! The most important thing you can do for your pet is to have unlimited access to water, everywhere you go. Invest in a water bottle with attached dog bowl to make it easier.
You can also DIY some frozen treats to help your dog cool down while hydrating. Popular ingredients include peanut butter, bananas, and fruit that is high in water content, such as melons and berries.
If you are going to be outside for a while, be sure your dog has access to a shady area to get a break from the sun.
“Flat-faced” dogs (pug, bulldog, boxer, etc.) are more at risk of heat stroke as they cannot pant effectively. Dogs who are very young, very old, overweight, and dogs with heart or lung disease are also at high risk. It is important to keep these pets in an air-conditioned space as much as possible.
When running errands, leave your pet home if you can. Never leave a dog in the car, even in the shade or with a windows cracked. Cars can overheat quickly, reaching lethal temperatures.
All dogs need some amount of exercise, and if you are worried about your dog’s weight, you may be concerned about them being stationary for too long. Your dog can still get their exercise with just a few modifications:
- Take walks during cooler times of the day, such as early in the morning, or later in the evening
- Avoid hot surfaces, such as asphalt, that can burn paws
- Take frequent breaks from exercising in the heat
- Keep your dog hydrated
Remember – if it is hot for you, it is even hotter for your furry friend. Take breaks more often than you think you need.
Recognize the Signs of Heat Stress
Temperature is not the only thing to consider in the summer. You also need to pay attention to humidity. Even if the weather seems beautiful to you and not hot at all, your pet can still suffer from heat stress. It’s important to know and recognize the signs. Watch out for these symptoms in your pet:
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
More severe symptoms include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, as well as an elevated temperature of over 104 degrees.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, rush your dog to the vet. Call the vet while you are intransit so they are expecting you!
If you have a long-haired dog, you may be tempted to give them a shave for the summer. After all, you would not wear a fur coat in the heat! Resist the urge to go for a full shave. Your dog’s fur actually acts as sun protection. Removing it could result in a painful sunburn! A good trim should do the trick. Take your dog to a professional groomer for a summer cut or, if you plan to do it yourself, leave an inch of fur for adequate protection.
While you are grooming your dog, do not forget to check regularly for warm weather parasites, such as fleas and ticks. If your pet does not already receive monthly flea prevention, it may be wise to consider. You can also get a tick collar to prevent tick-borne diseases.
Around the House
Besides keeping your pet cool and hydrated, there are a few safety measures to take around the house.
If you have a pool, make sure it is well gated, and do not leave your dog unsupervised around it. Not all dogs can swim, and even those that can may have trouble getting out and will tire from trying.
Keep windows screened! This may seem like a silly rule, but dogs or cats that like to hang out on the windowsill can fall and get injured. Best to play it safe. Plus, it keeps the bugs out!
Superior Veterinary Services in Montgomery County, MD
Summer heat can be brutal for your pet. It is important to keep up-to-date on the status of your dog’s health with regular wellness exams. At Falls Road Veterinary Hospital, we provide a thorough physical examination, as well as counseling on pet nutrition, diet, and behaviors. We will gladly answer all your questions so that you feel confident in caring for your specific pet.