It may not be summer yet, but in many parts of the country the temperatures are already heating up! Preventing your pet from having heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration should be pretty easy and straightforward, but that isn’t the case with many pet owners. Here are some basic ways that you can be absolutely certain that your pet is not going to fall victim to the myriad of heat-related health problems that exist:
- Never Bring Your Dog Anywhere When It’s Over 90 Degrees Outside – You may feel fine in the 90 degree weather, but your dog definitely does NOT. It is alright to let your dog, cat, rabbit, etc. in the yard to play for a bit, but for extremely limited amounts of time. You also hopefully have an accessible water dish outside for them to drink out of. NEVER take your dog for a walk or hike in this temperature, either! Chances are, your pet is covered in FUR, and also most likely does NOT SWEAT effectively in order to cool themselves down. Even if you have a fan or a spray bottle to cool them off, that doesn’t help combat the rapid rate that their body is losing water. Sure, your dog pants in order to lower its body temperature, but that doesn’t help if they have no water to replenish their body with. This leads us to our next important point…
- ALWAYS Bring Water and a Bowl With You Wherever You Go – This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many pet owners often just leave the house with their pet, and do NOT have any water with them! Even if they do have a water bottle with them, they have no method of giving their dog the water; with a bowl, cup, or any kind of container. Luckily in a pinch, you can stop by a fast food place and get a free water cup that your pet will probably drink out of – but that should always be a last resort. The worst is when people bring dogs on long walks or hikes with them in nature, and have a water bottle but no bowl or anything similar for the dog to drink from. Do you think your dog is going to drink out of your bottle? That’s not going to happen, because that’s literally impossible! Also, if you think you are going to successfully pour the water in your dog’s mouth, that isn’t going to work either. You may accidentally drown your dog too if they choke on the water! So, PLEASE bring water and a little bowl with you wherever you go, there is NO excuse to not have one in your car or bag. There are even special bowls for dog owners that fold up and are perfect for transporting!
- Be Aware of the Humidity Outside – I don’t know anyone who likes humidity – it is honestly one of the most uncomfortable weather phenomenons that exist. The sticky feeling of moisture in the air is horrible to live in (how do you do it, Florida?) and the fight against it is futile. Even if the temperature is a nice 75 degrees outside, the humidity level could be detrimental to your pet’s safety. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.” This is a very scary phenomenon, because even if you don’t think that it’s too hot outside, it very well could be. If you have to question whether or not the humidity is going to be an issue, just avoid going outside that day to be safe. Don’t be fooled by the passing breeze that makes it seem like it’s a nice, brisk day!
- Don’t Forget the Dangers of Asphalt and Concrete Pavement – The air may have a nice breeze, the humidity may be low, and you might assume it’s the perfect day to take a walk or hike with your pup. But, if you are going somewhere that has a lot of sidewalks, roads, parking lots, or other pavements on your trail, you should re-think your plan. Although the air may seem like a safe temperature, the ground has been baking in the sun for hours and hours, making it a dangerously hot surface! Your poor pet’s paws will be burned, blistered, and damaged – leading to infection, loss of sensation, and lots of pain and suffering. The same goes for the beach too – the sand could be extremely hot and scorch your pet’s paw pads beyond repair. Just because your feet and hands can withstand the extreme heat doesn’t mean that they can or should! If you cannot leave your dog at home and must bring them somewhere with scorching hot surfaces, there are plenty of boots available for them to wear that prevent coming in contact with dangerously hot surfaces.
- NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE CAR – Even if you have a window open, and it will only be for a few minutes, it is IMMENSELY hotter inside of the car than it is outside. Yes, even with a window cracked, it is still extremely hot – about 20 degrees hotter than the actual temperature outside! Not to mention, it may seem like your car is a normal temperature, but when it is stationary and doesn’t have air conditioning on, it can get real hot real quick. Also, you never know – what if you get caught up, and you end up spending way more than a couple minutes doing whatever you were going to do? What if something happens and there is a lock down in the bank or store and your dog is trapped in the hot car? Also, many states (like Florida) are passing laws where any civilian who sees a dog in a car has the permission to break the windows and free the pup. So, even if it will take “a second,” you should NEVER leave your dog in your parked car!
- Don’t Dress Them Up in Clothes – Okay, this one is super obvious but still has to be stated – if it is already hot out, do NOT dress them up in any clothing. No matter how adorable it may be, the risk of overheating is not worth it! Even if you think it is something minor, like a hat or a bow – it could easily cause your dog to be overheated. Also be careful about any harnesses or collars that are very thick, furry, or cover a lot of their body, because those could be just as hot as clothing! If it is scorching hot outside, your pet should literally be wearing NOTHING.
- Cut Your Pet’s Hair to Help Them Keep Cool – If your pet is already a short-haired breed, then they are probably fine – but if they tend to get bushy, it’s time to get a haircut! Again, this should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how clueless some pet owners can be. “I don’t want them to look weird without their hair,” is probably the worst excuse ever, because why would your pet’s appearance be worth more than their health and well-being? If your pet could choose, it would probably want to have no hair or fur at ALL during summer months! Especially if you don’t have air conditioning, or if it’s broken – fans do NOT help and should not be relied on to cool ANYONE off, let alone your pets.
If you follow these simple instructions, you will not have to worry about your pet becoming overheated and suffering from the many heat-related illnesses that are out there. A couple other tips for extremely hot days even when you are following the above advice, are to have some wet towels on hand to cool off your pets, and to also make freezable treats that they can eat to cool them off from the inside out. One such treat is a peanut butter popsicle, which could also taste delicious for you as well. Here is a whole list of ways for you and your companion to keep cool in the summer. As the spring fades into summer, enjoy the beautiful weather and plan accordingly for you AND your pet’s sake!