Arthritis in Dogs

Cool Summers for Pets

Protect Dogs, Cats, Birds and Exotics from the Heat

After a long winter and a spring thaw, we’re eager to get back out into the sunshine and enjoy the long days and warm nights with neighbors, friends and family. And for many of us, “family” includes our pets.
In fact, including your pets in your summer activities is healthy fun for everyone. But when the summer heat and humidity start to rise, it’s important to understand how pets are affected by the spike in temperature and take the necessary precautions to keep them cool and comfortable.

H2O is a Pet’s Best Friend

Unlike humans, dogs and cats have few sweat glands, which hinder them from cooling off by sweating. Instead, they lose heat and moisture from their tongues by panting. This water loss needs to be replaced, so it’s important to keep some fresh drinking water available at all times. This is especially important when you take them out for long summer walks or car rides.

Don’t Park Your Pet

Never leave your pet alone in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. The air in a parked car doesn’t circulate and, even in the shade, the temperature in a vehicle will start to rise and become life threatening in just a few minutes.

Rules for Pools

Getting together at your backyard pool to swim, have fun and cool off is a great summertime tradition. But the pool can be dangerous for adults, children and pets unless safety is observed at all times.

You should always be cautious when your pets are in or around the pool, especially if they’re older and can’t get in and out of the pool as easily as they used to. Some manufacturers produce ramps to allow pets an easy escape from an accidental fall into the water.

Block That Sun

It may be surprising to learn that pets with light-colored skin and hair can get sunburned. In fact, extensive time in the sun can even result in skin cancer. If you are going to be in a situation where your pet will be spending a long time outside on a hot, sunny day, talk to your veterinarian about using specially developed sun block for pets on unprotected areas like the nose and ears.

Make Some Shade

If you keep your pet outside, be mindful of the fact that a cool spot in the morning can turn scorching hot by mid-afternoon. Be sure to always have a comfortable, sheltered area available that they can retreat to for their rest. A kiddie pool in the shade can provide relief on those scorching summer days.

Summer can be a particularly difficult time because overweight dogs and cats can overheat faster as extra layers of fat act as insulation, trapping heat and restricting breathing.

A Weighty Problem

Studies show that between 25 and 40 percent of all household pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese. In fact, according to VPI Pet Insurance’s actuarial data, this trend is leading to a steady rise in obesity-related pet illnesses such as diabetes mellitus. Obesity is also known to be associated with, or can exacerbate, a variety of medical conditions such as high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.

Now, what does this mean with regard to the summer season? Well, summer can be a particularly difficult time of year because, as with humans, overweight dogs and cats can overheat faster because the extra layers of fat act as insulation, trapping heat and restricting breathing. If your pet is overweight, it’s important that you talk to your veterinarian before taking your pet on any outdoor activities you may be planning.

High Noon is No Time for Exercising

If you’re used to taking your dog for a walk during mid-day, it would be wise to change your schedule during summer to early morning or late afternoon walks with fresh water always at hand. Hot pavement can burn a dog’s pads, and walking outdoors during the hottest time of the day can lead to heat stress. After the summer is over, feel free to return to your usual schedule.

Keep the Bugs Off

The warm weather, longer days and summer fun keep us and our pets outdoors more often, increasing our chances of running into those pesky fleas and mosquitoes. Fleas and mosquitoes can transmit a number of diseases including tapeworm, heartworm and even West Nile Virus. During the summer months, be sure your dog or cat is tested for heartworm and that you’re using veterinarian-recommended flea and heartworm preventive products.

So sit back, sip some lemonade and read over these safety tips so you can give your pets the coolest summer ever!