Summer is a time to enjoy outdoor activities with your family, friends, and pets. However, pets are very susceptible to the heat. Leaving pets in cars while you do errands, even with the windows rolled down can lead to death. For example, on an 85°F day, the temperature inside a car with the windows open can reach 102°F in 10 minutes. Within 20 minutes can reach 120°F or higher. Double-coated dogs, overweight pets, black or dark colored pets, and breeds with short snouts like bulldogs, pugs, boxers, etc. are more susceptible to heat stroke because of their compromised cooling ability.
Heatstroke doesn’t just happen in cars, outdoor pets are at risk too. Here are a few MUST HAVES for outdoor pets:
- Access to shade and water, especially rabbits in outdoor hutches!
It is important to know the signs of heatstroke so that you can recognize when your pet is overheating. Pets with heatstroke may:
- Pant excessively
- Have diarrhea
- Be listless or lethargic
- Have muscle tremors.
Pets with severe heatstroke may have pale gums, difficulty walking, may collapse, and/or have seizures. Owners of pets with heatstroke should bring them IMMEDIATELY to a veterinary clinic. Owners can wet down their pets with cool water to begin the cooling process. But the most important thing to do is get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible so the veterinary staff can begin treatment.
Another cause for concern for pets in the summer is thermal sunburns. Pets can get sunburns just like people. Most often, pets get sunburns to the ears and nose. Pets with light-colored skin are most at risk, particularly cats white ears and faces and dogs with pale skin and noses. It is best for pets to avoid the sun between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. Waterproof sunscreen can be applied in small amounts to the ears of cats and exposed areas of dogs to prevent sunburns. Thermal burns can also occur on the pads of paws from walking across the pavement. Very hot beach sand can also burn paws and cause heatstroke. Hot surfaces should be avoided or owners can purchase booties to protect pets’ feet.
It is always important to have a constant source of water for pets. Animals’ water requirements increase with the temperature an their activity level. Pets that walk, hike, jog and those that are immunocompromised, overweight, or older need more water than sedentary pets. When traveling, owners should consider freezing part of their pets’ water so that they can have cool water and ice. Summer treats can be made for pets by freezing broth in ice cube trays.
Pets can overexert themselves just like humans, especially when exercising in the summer heat. When planning exercise, keep in mind your pet’s exercise tolerance, overall physical condition, and readiness for exercise. Exercise your pets in the cooler hours of the day and not during the hours of 11 am and 4 pm when there is peak sun exposure,
Pets should also be well supervised around pools, lakes, and ponds. Pets in these areas can drown or be exposed to water contaminated by poisons, gasoline, and infective protozoan organisms. Owners should consider placing a life-preserver on their pets when they are near bodies of water.