It’s Hot Out There

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How to Keep Your Pet Safe in the Summer Heat

By Tricia Roberts

Summer is here, and the temperature is definitely rising. Soaring temperatures can be uncomfortable for us, but extreme heat can also be very dangerous for your pet. Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe through the heat of the summer.

Never leave your pet in a parked car – not even for a minute with the windows cracked or the air conditioner on. In 85-degree heat, the inside temperature of a car with the windows cracked can quickly reach 102 degrees. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees at which point your pet could suffer irreversible organ damage. It’s best to be safe and leave your pet at home if you have to go somewhere he or she isn’t allowed.

On hot days, limit exercise with your pet. Consider decreasing the intensity and shortening outdoor time. Early morning and evening hours are best for outdoor activities. Keep in mind that animals don’t know when they need a break. Be especially careful with dogs with short noses who have more difficulty breathing as they are prone to heat stroke. The same goes for pets with thick coats or overweight and older animals.

Provide shade anytime your pet is outside to protect them from the heat and sun. Trees and overhead tarps provide good shade while not obstructing airflow. Doghouses, on the other hand, can actually make the heat worse as they don’t allow for a breeze. If your pet has white or lighter-colored ears, make sure they get plenty of shade as they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Additionally, you can apply sunscreen to protect them further. If the sunscreen is safe for kids, it’s most likely safe for your pet.

Be sure to have plenty of cool water around to make sure your pet doesn’t get dehydrated. In heat waves, adding ice cubes to the water helps keep it cool. Whether your pet is inside or out, don’t forget to fill their water bowl several times a day.

Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces. If possible, walk your pet on the grass or in the shade. If the pavement or patio is too hot for your bare feet, it’s also too hot for your pet’s paws. You can test the surface by touching the back of your hand to the surface for seven seconds. If you can’t last 7 seconds, Fido shouldn’t walk on it. If your pet has to cross over a hot surface for a potty break, wet the surface with a hose or water bottle to cool it down for them.

Don’t rely on a fan as pets respond differently to heat than humans do. Fans don’t cool off pets like they do people. A better way to cool your pet is with a cooling mat or cooling body wrap. If your pet likes baths, try a cooling soak.

When in doubt, simply keep your pet indoors.