6 Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Summer Heat
The dog days of summer are fast approaching, with promises of picnics and barbeques, camping trips, and long hours spent swimming at the beach. But while we look forward to the freedom of the great outdoors this summer, let's remember to make our pets' safety a priority. After all, the only way a dog can regulate her body temperature during those dog days is by panting and sweating through her paws.
Use these 6 tips to keep your dogs and cats safe from some common summer hazards.
1. NEVER Leave Your Pet in a Hot Car!
You wouldn't turn off the car and leave your child in it, even for a few moments, on a hot summer day (we sincerely hope). You shouldn't leave an animal in a hot car, either. On an 85 degree day—and in some areas in the US, average summer temperatures are often much higher—the temperature inside your vehicle can rise by more than 15 degrees in ten minutes, and can reach 120 degrees within thirty, according to this infographic published by the ASPCA. With temperatures this extreme, the possibility of heat stroke, organ failure, and even death is very real.
2. Be Mindful of Sensitive Paws
Pavement gets hot. So hot, in fact, that you could burn your feet walking on it barefoot. And if you could burn your feet, then your dog or cat could burn her paws. PETA warns us that when the temperature outside is 86 degrees, asphalt can quickly heat up to about 135 degrees—plenty hot enough to cause burns. Walk your pooch in the grass, if you can, and stick to morning and evening walks if the sidewalk is your only option.
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3. Give Them Plenty of Water
Pet WebMD recommends about an ounce of water daily per pound of pet. During the summer, however, you should supply more than this to be sure that your furry friend is getting plenty of water. Animals may not lose much water through sweat, but they can lose it through other ways such as drooling. Drinking plenty of water will also help them stay cool. Keep a water dish inside and outside, and refill it with fresh, clean, cold water daily.
4. Trim Their Fur, But Don't Shave Them
That thick, shiny coat may look hot, but it is vital to your pet's ability to regulate body temperature. It also protects against sunburn. Trim it down, and brush your cat's fur regularly, but keep the razor in the closet.
5. Watch What They Eat
Speaking of those picnics and barbeques we mentioned earlier, summertime can present a feast for watchful dogs—especially when inattentive toddlers happen to be present. While it may be OK to share a few people foods with your pet, if you aren't sure what is safe for her to eat and what isn't, stick with her dog food. Also, don't let her munch on grass or garden plants that have been sprayed with any kind of pesticide. And remember that pool water is often treated with toxic chemicals that you don't want your pet ingesting either.
6. Not All Dogs Can Swim!
Most of us know that cats are infamous for their hatred of water. Dogs, however, will often plunge headfirst into the water—or a hole in the ground, or your neighbor's perfectly manicured lawn—without stopping to consider the consequences. But despite their enthusiasm for new experiences, the fact remains that not all dogs can swim. Never leave your dog around a swimming pool without supervision, and strap a flotation device on her if she's coming along for a boat ride.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.