Warm weather can be dangerous for our pets. It’s hard for pets to keep cool when the sun is beating down, and that’s because animals don’t sweat like people do. You probably knew that dogs cool themselves through panting, but did you know that they sweat through their paws too? When there is only hot air for a dog to breathe, it’s a lot harder for that dog to keep cool. And while cats tend tolerate the heat a little better than dogs, and even prefer it (we’ve all seen a cat stretched out on a sunny windowsill), that doesn’t mean that you should forget about your cat this summer!
Summer safety tips for dogs & cats:
1.Never, ever, EVER leave your pet in a hot car. It can take minutes – yes, MINUTES – for a pet to develop heat stroke and suffocate in a car. Most people don’t realize how hot it gets in parked cars. On a 78 degree day, for instance, temperatures in a car can reach 90 degrees in the shade and top 160 degrees if parked directly in the sun! Your best bet is to leave your pet home on warm days. If you’re driving around with your dog or cat in the car, bring water and a water dish and take your pet with you when you leave the car.
2. Make sure your pet is protected from parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. If not protected, your pet is at risk for heartworm, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and a host of other nasty and dangerous conditions. And don’t forget, many of these diseases can be caught by people, too!
3. Keep the paws in mind. When the sun is cooking, surfaces like asphalt or metal can get really hot! Try to keep your pet off of hot asphalt; not only can it burn paws, but it can also increase body temperature and lead to overheating. Also, it’s not a good idea to drive around with your dog in the bed of a truck – the hot metal can burn paws quickly (and they can fall out or be injured or killed in an accident).
4. Your pet should always have access to fresh water and shade. Our pets, especially dogs, get much thirstier than we do when they get hot, and other than panting and drinking, they really have no way to cool themselves down. Also, get your pet in the shade as often as possible. While dogs and cats like to sunbathe, direct sunlight can overheat them (especially dogs) and cause heat stroke.
5. If your dog loves to swim, give him his very own “kiddy pool.” Dogs who usually love the water love it even more in the hot months and getting wet keeps them cool. Providing a small, kid-sized pool will also keep them safe.
6. Believe it or not, dogs can sunburn, especially those with short or light-colored coats. And just like for people, sunburns can be painful for a dog and overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about sunscreens for your pet (don’t assume a sunscreen for people is appropriate for your dog).
7. This one’s for the cats: keep your windows screened! We all know cats love windowsills. You may want your house to be ventilated, but you definitely do not want your kitty to fall out!
And as always, make sure you talk with your veterinarian about any questions or concerns you have about your pets in warm summer weather.
At Twenty Something Living we realize that there is an endless amount of information out there on pet health. Knowing this we have compiled a list of trusted D.V.M approved sites and information for you to take a look at should you want more information.
American Animal Hospital Association
American Board of Veterinary Practitioners
American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
Center for Veterinary Medicine- U.S. Food and Drug Administration