Summer Sizzle: A Pet Owner’s Guide to Hot Weather Pet Safety
Hot, humid days in the Gulf can be expected… just listen to the steady hum of air conditioners kicking on across the neighborhood. Our pets can also experience discomfort – and even some danger – during the scorching summer months. You may also be surprised to learn that many pets are quite prone to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and dehydration.
Take some time to learn more about hot weather pet safety and what you can do to keep your pet cool.
The Basics of Heatstroke and Dehydration
When it comes to humans, it isn’t hard to tell when we’ve become a bit too warm – we become thirsty and tend to sweat. Pets, on the other hand, are limited to minimal perspiration from their paw pads. Panting (for dogs) and simply avoiding activity during hot times of day (like our kitty friends) seem to top the list of innate defense mechanisms against becoming too hot.
Unfortunately, many pet owners take the wild origins of their pets for granted, assuming they’re able to handle all forms of inclement and extreme weather, which puts many pets in peril. In fact, veterinary heat related emergencies are very common – including heatstroke.
Heatstroke (hyperthermia) is a condition that happens when a pet has been exposed to high temperatures, in which the body loses more moisture than it’s able to take in, resulting in a spike in body temperature.
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid respiration
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of coordination
- Red or purple hue to tongue/gums
Dehydration is also a common condition for pets who are very active or do not consume enough water (which is true for many cats). Dehydration is also a problem for pets with underlying medical conditions, such as kidney disease and diabetes.
You can encourage your pet to drink more often by keeping multiple bowls of fresh water around the home and yard. Cats will often drink more if they’re enticed by a fountain type dispenser or by adding some tuna juice for flavor.
Hot Weather Pet Safety
While heat related dangers can be frightening, taking simple steps to keep your pet cool is a breeze:
- Bring outdoor pets inside, and keep the temperature comfortable through the use of air conditioning and fans, even while human family members are away.
- Limit your pet’s outdoor activity on hot, humid days – especially those pets with health issues, young puppies/kittens, senior pets, and brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs.
- Carry water with you whenever you and your pet are out and about, even on car trips.
- Add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl to help keep water cool and inviting.
- When you’re outdoors, make sure to monitor your pet closely. Head inside at any sign of discomfort.
- Seek shady spots to rest whenever you’re on a walk or enjoying the outdoors with your pet.
- Take daily walks early in the morning or during the evening. You’ll still have a good amount of light, but you’ll avoid the worst of the mid-day heat.
Beating the heat can be hard for all of us during the summer, but our pets depend on us for safety and care. For more tips, please contact your friends at Hallsville Veterinary Hospital.