- Avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Think twice before bringing your dog along for errands.
- Watch out for hot surfaces.
- Always provide plenty of fresh cool drinking water.
- Protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
Like people, not all dogs and cats can handle heat equally. Short-faced, older, and overweight dogs and cats typically have more trouble getting and staying cool. Dogs especially, overheat much more quickly than people.
Not sure if your dog is overweight? Start with a basic check of your dog/cat’s body shape.
During warm weather, regardless of the season, exercise your dog only in the early morning, late evening, or take him swimming. Use caution when running your dog on the beach in the middle of the day. Although the air may feel cooler to you, it’s not the same as swimming. Always take along plenty of fresh, cool water
- rapid breathing
- thick excessive saliva
- red gums
If your dog or cat shows signs of heatstroke, drape him with cool, wet towels and get him to the vet immediately! Even if he appears to recover he still needs to see a vet, as deadly effects of overheating can appear days later.
Unless you plan to leave the air conditioning on and your car engine running when you’re out of the car running errands, leave your dog at home. Even if you leave the windows down, a car can heat up quickly unless you’ve parked in a deeply shaded spot. But, if you leave the windows down you run the risk of someone stealing your car or worse, your dog.
Be aware of what your dog is walking on. Sidewalks, pavement, gravel, beach sand, even artificial grass all have the potential to burn paws. Test the temperature of any surface your dog will walk on with your bare foot or hand. If it’s hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet’s feet. Boots will protect your dog’s feet, but if possible just walk along the grassy edge — it’ll be much more interesting for your dog.
Because dogs and cats cool their body by panting (this is known as evaporative cooling) they need plenty of fresh water. When away from home, even walking in your neighborhood, be sure to take along some water. Zuka bowls, Lixit bottles, and Ruffwear’s Singletrak Pack hydration backpack are all convenient ways to bring along water and help avoid overheating. Water at home should be kept out of the sun to keep it cool and slow down bacterial growth caused by food debris in the water.
Don’t forget the sunscreen for delicate areas like the nose, ears, and thin-coated areas like the belly if your dog is out in the sun. Although you can use sunscreen intended for babies, be sure to let it dry before allowing your dog to lick it off. You can use a pet-safe product, however, use caution if your dog is groomed by your cat. If you do have dog-grooming kitty be sure to thoroughly bathe your dog before your cat does it for you. There are no sunscreens that can be safely ingested by cats.
Dogs and cats with lighter fur, nose, and ears, or thin belly coats can easily get over-exposed to harmful UV rays, leading to sunburns and skin cancers. So keep them out of the sun during peak sun intensity hours (11 am to 4 pm PDT). If your dog must remain outdoors during the day be sure to provide plenty of shady spots for napping.
People often think that clipping and shaving the coat will help their dog or cat stay cooler. However, their fur coat acts like insulation, keeping them warm in winter and cool in summer. And since they cool by panting, and sweat only through their paws, their coat doesn’t affect their ability to stay cool. Not only does their coat help regulate body temperature, but it protects their skin from harmful UV rays. And, shaving your pet’s coat can actually predispose him to heat related illnesses.
To keep your pet’s coat in tip-top shape for summer, brush it daily and keep it free of dirt, sand, and saltwater. Well-brushed, clean, mat-free fur allows for better air circulation, which helps to keep your furry friend cool.
It’s summertime so get out, have fun, and be safe!