For months, we’ve been dreaming about warmer temperatures and sunny days, and they’re finally here! There’s not much better than enjoying long, lazy summer days outside with our pets. But, do you know that warm weather poses health and safety risks to our furry companions? Let’s see how we can protect our pets during the dog days of summer.
Feelin’ hot, hot, hot
When it’s hot outside for you, it’s even hotter for your animal. Humans are covered in sweat glands, but pets don’t sweat the way we do. In fact, dogs only have sweat glands on the pads of their feet and their noses, and cats just sweat through their paws. When you think about an animal’s feet, you realize that’s not a very large surface area to accomplish a sufficient amount of cooling. So, what can we do to avoid the dangers of too much heat—and, on some days, that may simply mean leaving pets at home?
Keep cool and stay hydrated
We all know pets who like to soak up the sun, but direct sunlight can overheat them. Be sure there are options for shade when your animals (and you!) are lounging out in the yard or supporting their human siblings at soccer games. Just like their owners, animals need to stay hydrated, so use your thirst as a guide. When you want a drink, you can count on your companion wanting one, too. Be sure to bring a collapsible bowl to make water breaks easy when you’re out and about.
Know the signs
Dehydration can cause serious problems for pets. Cats and dogs drink water and pant to bring their body temperature down when it gets higher than normal. Some symptoms of overheating include drooling, heavy panting, vomiting and diarrhea. If your pets show signs of heat exhaustion, bring them to a cool place, get them to drink water and call their veterinarian.
No, no, never, never, ah, ah, ah
It’s never OK to leave your dog in a parked car—even for a few minutes—during the summer. When it’s 70 degrees out, after 10 minutes inside a car, the temperature rises to 89 degrees, and after 30 minutes, it’s a whopping 104 degrees! Not only is it dangerous to leave your pet in a car, but it’s also illegal in Colorado. If you see a pet left alone in a car and you think he’s in danger, legally you can enter a locked vehicle to help an at-risk animal. Learn more about the hot car immunity law at ddfl.org/news/know-new-hot-car-immunity-law.
Don’t get burned
Did you know that pets can get sunburns too, especially ones who have short hair or light-haired coats? Well, they can, and it hurts just like it does when it happens to us. Apply sunscreen to your four-legged companions regularly per the instructions on the package. Remember, human sunscreen isn’t safe for animals, so be sure to buy one that’s made specifically for pets.
Skip the summer shave
A pet’s coat naturally keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so while you may think shaving your dog will help keep them from overheating, that’s not the case. If you do get your pup a summer cut, be sure to leave an inch of hair to help protect their skin from sunburns.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean your pup isn’t going to want their routine walk—and there’s no reason to stop. Try and adjust your strolls so that you go earlier or later in day and never in the middle when it’s the hottest. It’s always a good idea to bring water, too. Along the walking line, be sure to pay attention and keep your pup off hot surfaces. Their paws can get burned, and since they can absorb heat through their pads, their body temperature can climb. If your enthusiastic walking companion is open to wearing socks/booties, they do serve a great purpose when the terrain is hot.
Don’t chew on that
Not much screams summer more than a BBQ but remember that our four-legged friends can’t enjoy the experience as we can. Pets should never drink alcohol. Never. It’s also best to stay away from sharing snacks and meals with your friend, so their diet isn’t disrupted. Plus, things like onions, raisins and some ingredients, such as chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol—commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods—can be deadly.
Be water safe
Some dogs can swim, others can learn and then there are those who will never pick up the activity. I know. I know. Based on the doggy paddle swimming style, we assume all dogs inherently know how to do this aquatic activity, but that’s not always the case. No matter your pup’s skill level, if you’re near water, they need a brightly-colored canine life jacket to stay afloat in case of an emergency.
Tame the spark
Many of us enjoy the sights and sounds of fireworks, but these displays—no matter how large or small—may frighten cats and dogs. When pets panic, they can run away, and, in fact, more dogs are lost on July 4 than any other day of the year. Learn how to keep your pets calm and safe at ddfl.org/news/help-your-pets-stay-safe-this-independence-day.
The summer breeze may make you feel fine, but always be aware of your pets, their surroundings and the weather before the fun begins. Have a safe summer from all of us at the Dumb Friends League!
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