Pet Tips for Hot Weather
Made in the Shade
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
Know the Warning Signs
Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Watch the Humidity
It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. Don’t rely on a fan. Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels – very quickly.
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time — even with the windows open, which could lead to fatal heat stroke.
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. When the air temperature is at 87, the asphalt temperature is 143! (At 131 an egg can fry in 5 minutes). A great way to measure the ground temperature is to place the back of your hand firmly against it for 7 seconds to verify it will be comfortable for your pet.
Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
Taking Fido to a backyard barbecue or party? Remember that the food and drink offered to guests may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.
Prepare for Power Outages
Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.