The heat is on! While we sip extra water, don swimsuits, and rush from air-conditioned car to cooled-down buildings, our pets are still wearing their fur coats and depending on us to refill their water bowls. Summer is uncomfortable for them, too – and it can be deadly. The staff and veterinarians at Encanto Pet Clinic want you and your pet to have a happy, healthy summer. Here are some ways to keep your pet safe:
- Nix the R-word. The word “ride” is music to those doggy ears. But it should be used with caution in summer. Never leave your pet in a car. Ever. Interior temperatures can quickly rise above 100 degrees on the mildest summer day. Dogs that ride in the backs of trucks are not immune to the hazards of summer heat. The sun can heat a metal truck bed or bedliner to dangerous temperatures, burning a dog’s paw pads or causing heatstroke.
- Pupsicle break. Instead of the R-word, give your pet something fun to do at home. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) suggests making frozen treats to keep them cool and occupied.
- Give him the boot. Have you ever felt the seats of your car after it has been parked in the sun? It can scorch your bare skin, and your pet’s paws. Do you take your dog jogging? The Tucson pavement is scorch-level by early morning, so keep your pet safe with doggie boots or sandals.
- All the cool dogs are wearing them. Not only can you let your dog wear the snazziest kicks, but you can accessorize with cooling jackets, mats and kerchiefs. Or let him soak in a cool bath in the shade during the hottest part of the day.
- Early or later. Even with boots, it’s best to exercise your pet in the early morning or late evening hours. Short-nosed breeds will have more difficulty breathing, and white or light-colored pets are more susceptible to skin cancer. It’s great to keep your pet healthy with exercise, but keep it comfortable for them by limiting or canceling those summer runs.
- Water please. Have water available at all times, whether you are traveling by car or on foot. Animals pant to wick heat and moisture away from their bodies, and they can quickly dehydrate in warm temperatures. Add ice to the water bowl when possible, and offer open shade that allows airflow. Dog houses don’t count – they trap heat and are unsafe in summer months. Don’t rely solely on fans– the airflow is still hot and will serve little to cool your pet.
- But not too much water. A dog can ingest too much water by playing in pools or lakes for long periods of time, or by swallowing water while snapping at water hoses or sprinklers. Water intoxication can cause low sodium levels, or hyponatremia. Excess water dilutes body fluids, changing the balance of electrolytes, and lowering sodium levels. This causes the cells to swell, affecting the nervous system and the brain. The problem is rare but can be fatal. Symptoms include bloating, vomiting, staggering or loss of balance, or vomiting. Extreme cases may exhibit seizures, difficulty breathing, collapse or coma.
Be alert for heatstroke!
The extreme summer temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke include:
- Heavy or excessive panting
- Drooling or vomiting
- Deep red or purple tongue
- Glazed eyes
- Lethargy or unconsciousness
These animals are particularly at risk:
- Senior animals
- Very young puppies or kittens
- Overweight pets
- Pets with heart or respiratory conditions
- Short-muzzled breeds of dogs and cats
If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke:
- Move your pet immediately to a cooler area, in the shade or indoors.
- Soak towels in cold water and apply to his head, neck and chest.
- Ice packs can be used, but wrap them in a towel first before applying to the skin.
- Offer small amounts of cold water or ice cubes.
- Take him directly to your veterinarian at Encanto Pet Clinic. Call ahead if possible so the staff can be prepared to treat him immediately upon arrival.