This is the first post in our pet safety series!
HOW DO PETS STAY COOL?
In order to understand pet safety in hot weather, we must first understand how most pets cool their bodies. Common pets such as cats and dogs sweat through their paws and pant to cool down. Cats may lick their coat and as the saliva evaporates it helps to cool their bodies. Now that we understand how these animals typically cool down, how can we help keep our pets cool on these steamy summer days?
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Since our pets sweat through their paws, keep in mind how much time they spend on hot asphalt and concrete. These hot surfaces can burn their paws and raise their body temperature. This also applies to the bed of a pickup truck. The best place for a pet in the hot weather is indoors or on the shaded grass.
DON’T FORGET HUMIDITY
It is important to keep humidity in mind as well as the temperature. According to the Humane Society of the United States, when pets are panting, they are expelling moisture from their lungs, which helps to cool their bodies off. When humidity levels are high, our pets can’t get enough moisture out of their lungs to effectively cool down. Thankfully, you can help your pet cool off in other ways. Pet-safe popsicles can be a fun activity to let children help out with pet care. It can help your pet cool off from the inside out and peanut butter is a pet-favorite ingredient for popsicles. It is good to understand that a fan isn’t as effective for pets as it is for humans, since most of their cooling comes from their paws. If your pet doesn’t mind, a cold bath can always help.
In order to prevent overheating in animals, limit exercise during the hottest hours of the day. Try to exercise your pet during the morning or evening and always bring plenty of water. As the temperature rises, keep your pet in shaded areas or indoors when possible. Make sure that your pet always has water or ice cubes to stay hydrated. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that pet owners ask their vet if their pet could benefit from a warm-weather haircut or sunscreen. It is important to remember that if you are hot, your pet is even hotter.
HOT CAR DANGERS
Never ever leave your pet in a hot car. The temperature inside a parked car is much hotter than the temperature outside. When the temperature outside is 90 degrees, the temperature inside a car can jump to 109 degrees in less than ten minutes. If your pet is left in a hot car it can lead to heat stroke or death in minutes. Your pet can sustain brain damage or die due to a heat stroke, so this is a very serious matter. Never leave your pet inside a hot car even for “just a minute” because it can be deadly.
Be on the lookout for heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness.
If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it may be having a heatstroke. In order to help your pet in this situation, bring the pet indoors and put cold towels or ice packs on its head neck, and chest. A cool bath could also help. Let your pet drink small amounts of water and bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
Trips to the pool, beach, or lake can be great for pet families. Pet popsicles and playing in the sprinkler can keep pets safe and cool while having fun. Night hikes or early morning excursions are great activities for pets during hot weather. Pet safety is very important in hot weather, but once you understand how to help your pet stay cool you are free to enjoy the summer with your pet alongside!