If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then the weather is heating up! You might be psyched, but your pet may not be. Many people don’t realize that pets have different temperature regulation than humans do—a hot summer day may be mildly uncomfortable to you but excruciating to your pet. Extreme temperatures are more difficult on pets than most people realize, but luckily there are steps you can take to keep your furry friends safe.
- Always bring water for your pet when you walk him or her. It can be easy for your pet to become dehydrated on hot days, so make sure you bring water! If you know of any businesses that put out water bowls for pets, you may want to include those on your routes (and if you have a business, consider putting out a water bowl—dogs will appreciate it!)
- Walk your pet in the shade when possible. An entire walk in the sun may be difficult for your pet, especially if he or she has dark fur that may absorb sunlight. Opt to walk in the shade wherever you can.
- On super hot days, be mindful that hot sidewalks may hurt your pet’s paws. Invest in booties or walk your pet only along grass/trails when temperatures skyrocket. If it’s hot enough for you to be uncomfortable walking barefoot on the sidewalk, you can assume that it will be the same for your pet.
- Opt for shorter walks in the summer rather than fewer long walks. If you’d normally take your dog on say 2-3 45-minute walks per day, try to split that down to 5-6 20-minute walks in the summer. This way your pet can maintain his/her level of exercise but won’t need to be out in the sun for long periods of time.
- Opt for longer walks in the morning and evening rather than the middle of the day. When the weather is super hot, it’s usually more mild in the morning and the evening.
- Limit exercise on super hot and humid days. When temperatures and humidity reach extreme levels, it may be safer to leave your pet inside. Maybe you can have some playtime or try to teach them something new indoors!
- Look for signs of exhaustion and thirst. When your dog is panting and sticking his or her tongue out, this is a sign that he or she needs to drink water and cool off. When you see these signs make sure to give your pet some water and either slow down or go home.
- Look for signs of heat stroke. Signs include heavy panting, glazed eyes, salivation, fever, lethargy, lack of coordination, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, extreme thirst, deep red or purple tongue, or even seizure or unconsciousness. If your pet shows any of these signs, move them into the shade or an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest, run cool water over them, let them drink small amounts of cool water, and then take them to a veterinarian.
- Be aware of risk factors that make an animal more susceptible to heat-induced illness. Dogs that have short muzzles such as boxers, pugs, and shih tzus will find it more difficult to breathe and cool off in the heat. Dogs with longer and/or darker hair are also at a greater risk.
- Never EVER leave your pet in a parked car. The temperature in cars can quickly build up to intolerable levels, even if the windows are down. Never leave a pet in a parked car (even if you’re only running into the store for a minute!) and call law enforcement if you see an animal alone in a parked car.
Temperatures may be heating up, but with these tips you can ensure that your pet has a safe and comfortable summer. How do you keep your pet safe in the heat?
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Photo: Maire O’Donnell.