Beach trips, long sunny days, barbecues, and baseball games. The dog days of summer are fast approaching. And it’s just as important for your pets to stay cool as it is that you do!
Here’s our list of summer safety tips for pet owners:
Keep them cool and hydrated. Make sure your pet has plenty of cool, fresh water at all times. Soak towels, body wraps or mats in cold water, and put them in your pets’ beds to cool their bodies. For cats, rub cold water on the tips of their ears and paws, where veins and arteries pass through. Give dogs cool baths — as long as they don’t find baths to be too stressful.
Don’t EVER leave pets in the car. It’s never a good idea to leave dogs or cats in the car, but it’s especially dangerous in the summertime. If the temperature inside the car is higher than the temperature of the pet, it won’t be able to dissipate body heat even with heavy panting.
Be aware of ground temperature. Before you let your pet outside, place your hand on the ground. If the concrete or asphalt is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet, and could burn the pads of their feet. Seek out grass in your yard or at the dog park, pick the coolest time of the day to let them outside, and make sure there’s plenty of shade! If needed, you can use booties to protect their feet.
Use sunscreen. That’s right — dogs and cats can get sunburns too! Apply sunscreen to their muzzles and any other spots where hair doesn’t cover their skin. It’s likely you’ll trim your dog’s coat to help them keep cool, so if their coat is thin, you’ll need more sunscreen. And pay attention to dogs with light-colored skin, they can sunburn more easily.
Watch for overheating. Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, lethargy, fever, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. If your dog or cat shows these signs, cool them down right away by submerging them in cold water. Give them small amounts of cool water to drink, rather than a lot all at once. Once your pet is stable, bring them to an animal hospital.
Go easy on exercise. On hot, humid days, restrict your pet’s exercise to early mornings or late evenings.
Know your pet’s limitations. Short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds of dogs and cats — with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats — typically have more difficulty in breathing if it is hot and humid. Animals are at particular risk for overheating if they are very old, very young, are overweight, or have heart or respiratory disease.
Try out frozen treats. You can make fruit flavored or peanut butter Popsicle for dogs. Be sure to check the label to make sure the fruit or peanut butter does not contain the artificial sweetener, xylitol in it, as xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Some dogs like to chew and suck on an ice cube. But use caution to make sure the ice isn’t so hard that it can break off part of a tooth.
Check for pests. It’s summer, so check your pets for ticks, fleas, mites, flies, and mosquitoes every day.
Keep these tactics in mind and visit your local veterinary clinic if you have any questions or concerns!