By Dr. Amanda Zetwo, Medical Director of Clinic Services
As the summer weather continues to heat up over the next couple of months, you may be wondering how you can keep your pets healthy and safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you enjoy summer activities with your pets:
Fresh water – it’s not surprising for animals to increase their water consumption when the weather warms up. Making sure all animals in the home (even your exotic pets!) have daily access to fresh and clean water is essential to their health and wellbeing. Fun fact: rabbits actually require more water than a cat or dog of similar size!
Brachycephalic breeds – those adorable short-faced breeds such as Pugs and Persians are at a physical disadvantage when it comes to cooling off. It’s tempting to want to bring them outside to a barbeque or picnic this summer, but it doesn’t take long for life-threating overheating to occur. So, let them stay at home and relax in the air conditioning!
Overheating – it’s important to remember that all breeds can overheat, no matter their hair length or athleticism. Be alert and make sure you intervene early to help your pet cool off. Overheating signs include excessive panting, drooling, mild weakness, seeming confused, not responding appropriately, collapse and diarrhea (sometimes with blood). The normal body temperature for cats and dogs is between 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, having a thermometer on hand can be a lifesaver!
Vehicles – most dogs love a good car ride but if the temperature outside is above 70 degrees, it’s best to leave your buddy at home. On a day where it’s 85 degrees outside, it takes less than ten minutes for the inside of the car to reach 102 degrees. And, within thirty minutes the interior can reach a scorching 120 degrees, even with cracked windows!
Never shave your dog – a summer trim, removing the dead undercoat and a haircut it fine, but no absolutely no shaving. The layers of their coat actually protect them from overheating and sunburn, as well as helping to keep warm in the winter. Certain breeds with very curly hair tend to become so matted that they frequently need to be shaved down so if that happens, make sure you keep your pet out of the sun until the coat regrows. Brush your pet frequently to help remove dead coat and keep them cool!
Hot asphalt – on an 87-degree day, asphalt temperatures can easily reach a temperature of 143 degrees. Some types of asphalt can be even hotter. Under similar conditions, concrete then brick then asphalt retain heat from least to most. Be sure to go for an early morning or late evening walk when temperatures are rising.
Fireworks – they may be bright and beautiful to us, but to your pets, fireworks can be very loud and scary. Call your primary care veterinarian and ask about anti-anxiety medication if needed.
Pool safety – never leave your pet unattended by a pool – even if you are confident in their swimming abilities. Also make sure they aren’t using the pool as their drinking water source because the chlorine can cause health issues.
Resources: ASPCA and Four Paws International