Unlike people, whose perspiration keeps them cool, pets have hardly any sweat glands at all which can easily lead to overheating. What they do instead is pant. Panting helps dispel some of the heat but it really isn’t very efficient, which is why hot weather, for both cats and dogs, is uncomfortable weather. Here are some tips to help pets stay healthier and happier in the warm summer months.
- Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car. Even cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke during hot summer days. The temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute and quickly become lethal.
- Provide two bowls of fresh water (just in case one gets spilled) and always keep them filled. You may want to add ice cubes directly to their water bowls, or freeze a bowl of water the night before for use the next day. A wading pool filled with an inch or two of water will give pets a pleasant place to drink and cool off.
- Don’t forget that asphalt and concrete can get very hot and burn the pads of your dog’s or cat’s feet. On very hot days limit exercise to early morning or late evening hours.
- Pets can get sunburned, too. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. Keep your pet well groomed using a tool such as Safari’s Shed Magic to remove the undercoat but resist temptation to shave off all of his hair in an effort to keep him cool. Your pet’s coat will protect him from getting sunburned. A matted coat traps in the heat.
- Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle, such as a pick-up truck without using an approved tethering device so that he cannot bounce or jump out of the moving vehicle. Remember that the floor of the truck bed can get extremely hot and may burn the pads of your dog’s feet. Never leave your dog restrained and unattended.
- Signs of heatstroke: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.
Follow these tips, and it could save your pet’s life:
- Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet’s head, neck, and chest or immerse in cool (not cold) water.
- Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
- Take your pet directly to a veterinarian if overheating is very serious or your pet is not recovering.