Summer… what a great time of year here in the Pacific Northwest. But summer’s heat can be a dangerous time for your dog or cat.
To make sure everyone has a fun and safe summer, follow these 7 tips to help your pet beat the heat.
Tips for Dogs
1. Provide plenty of shade and water.
Dogs can overheat quickly on warm days, and they’re not able to perspire as efficiently as humans. To cool off, they pant.
To prevent heat exhaustion, provide access to shade and water. If you have a short-nose “smooshy-faced” breed such as a pug, bulldog, Boston terrier or boxer, be extra cautious, because they are less heat-tolerant than other breeds.
2. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke, which can damage a dog’s vital internal organs and can be fatal. Be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Excessive panting
- Bright red tongue and gums
- Bloody diarrhea
If you suspect heat exhaustion, wet your dog with cool water and immediately take him to the vet for treatment.
3. Avoid walking or exercising on hot surfaces.
Have you ever walked barefoot on hot sand at the beach, or on sizzling pavement? You know how awful that feels!
Hot surfaces can cause your dog’s pads to burn. The problem: your dog can’t tell you that she has pad-burn! If you’re jogging with her, she’ll try to keep up with you even if she’s in pain.
It’s wise to avoid taking your dog for a walk or a run on hot days. Test the ground first with your own bare tootsies. If it’s too hot for you to comfortably walk on it, it’s too hot for your pup.
Exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening, when the surface is cool.
4. Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car.
Not even if you are running into the post office for 5 minutes!
If the outdoor temp is 78 degrees, the temp inside the car parked in the shade can reach 90 degrees in minutes.
If the outdoor temp is 85 degrees and you roll your car windows down, your car can heat up to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. And it can reach 160 degrees when parked in direct sun! (See heat stroke tip, above.) Why risk your dog’s life? Just don’t do it.
Tips for Cats
While cats love to stretch out on a sunny windowsill and they tolerate the heat a little better than dogs, too much direct sunlight can cause overheating and may lead to heat stroke.
5. Provide a cool spot.
This is like a heating pad in reverse. Freeze a water bottle, wrap it (to keep it from sticking to your cat’s hair or skin), and place it under a lightweight blanket or towel in your cat’s favorite sunning area.
6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
When cats get hot, they get even thirstier than humans. The only way they can cool down is by drinking water. Make sure you replenish your cat’s water bowl frequently, and consider popping in an ice cube or two to keep it cool.
Or you can make CAT-sicles – popsicles for cats! Here’s how:
7. Apply sunscreen.
Yes, you read that correctly. Cats can sunburn. And overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer.
As you might imagine, hairless breeds such as the Sphynx are particularly susceptible to sunburns on the ears, nose, lips, eyelids, and belly. But don’t use “people” sunscreen on your cat. Ask us about appropriate sunscreens for your kitty.