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Keeping Pets Safe in the Summer Heat

Jul 26, 2012 03:42PM ● By Erin Frisch

Keeping Pets Safe in the Summer Heat

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors with our furry friends. But high temperatures and some summer activities can be dangerous for pets. The most common hot weather hazards include dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn—all preventable. Take simple precautions to protect your best friend from these hazards, and keep pets safe while enjoying all that summer has to offer with them.

  1. Provide plenty of shade and cool water. When temperatures rise, pets can become dehydrated quickly. Give them plenty of fresh, clean water (put a few ice cubes in the water bowl). Make sure pets have a shady place to escape the sun, and consider keeping them indoors when it is extremely hot. If your pet seems overheated, place a fan on the floor for him to lie in front of. And be careful not to overexercise your pet in the heat. Walks in the early morning or after dusk are best when temperatures rise.
  2. Know the warning signs of heatstroke. Symptoms of overheating include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, warm and dry skin, weakness, drooling, stupor, or collapse. Seizures, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea can result if your pet’s body temperature reaches 104 degrees. Flat-faced and long-haired pets, as well as very young, very old, and obese animals, are more susceptible to heatstroke. If your pet displays any signs of heatstroke, first move him to a cool place and offer plenty of cool water. Do NOT immerse your pet in cold water—this can cause hypothermia. Call your vet ASAP.
  3. Never leave your pet inside a closed vehicle. Even with the windows cracked, a car can quickly heat to over 100 degrees on a warm day. This could lead to fatal heatstroke. Leaving pets unattended in a car in extreme weather is illegal in several states.
  4. Hot asphalt can burn or damage paws. Lingering on hot surfaces can also heat up pets’ bodies quickly because they are close to the ground. If tar or sticky asphalt gets on your furry friend’s footpads, rub them lightly with petroleum jelly and gently wash with mild soap, rinsing with cool water. Never use chemicals to remove tar. Keep walks to a minimum on especially hot days, and try to take walks earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not high in the sky.
  5. Never shave your pet. It’s fine to trim longer hair, but a very short clip or shave is not a good idea. Layers of animals’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn, and a short haircut does not necessarily ensure a cooler body temperature. If you use sunscreen on your pet, be sure the label says it’s safe for use on animals. Ask your vet for a recommendation.
  6. Groom regularly to control pests. If you bring pets to a field or wooded area, check ears, bellies, armpits, and the base of the tail carefully for ticks. To avoid flea-related problems, keep your pet on a flea prevention regimen. If you live in an area where mosquitoes are prominent, make sure that pets who go outdoors are on heartworm prevention, since mosquitoes carry heartworm disease. Stings and bites from insects and snakes also occur commonly in summer. Be on the lookout for signs of bites, stings, or other irritations if your pet is spending time outdoors.
Finally, if your pet seems distressed in any way, call your vet right away. Getting help early will ensure the best outcome for your best friend.

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