why and how to keep your pet cool in the summer heat
As a communicator I am always concerned for the welfare of animals and believe that we should help others to give their pets the best life possible.
The problem is that, dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like humans do, they only have them in their paws. The main way they can cool off is by panting, which isn’t very efficient. They can’t reduce their body heat by exchanging warm air, with warm air.
Once a dog’s body temperature gets over normal temperature the result is everything from nerve or brain damage, heart problems, liver damage, systemic organ failure, or heat stroke and it happens fast, within a matter of minutes.
Signs of heat stress:
Dark (deep purple) or bright red tongue and gums
Sticky or dry tongue and gums
Bloody diarrhoea or vomiting
Signs of heatstroke in cats
Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting and rapid breathing, lethargy, bright pink ears, confusion, weakness and inability to stand, shaking, tremors, and possibly even seizures.
A cat with heatstroke will also feel hot to the touch on the pads of her feet. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from heatstroke place your cat on a cool surface right away, such as a tiled floor. Then turn on a fan and place it so that it is blowing on her to remove some of the heat.
Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, large heavy-coated breeds, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
If your pet becomes overheated, you must lower his body temperature immediately. **remember these are tips for you to use prior or en route to your vet. Just because your animal is cooled and “appears” OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. **
Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold – Very cold water will cause constrictions of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) water all over your pets body to gradually lower her body temperature.
Apply cold towels all over the body and use a cool fan to bring down the overall body temperature.
Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
Finally, take your pet directly to a veterinarian — it could save your pet’s life.
Darker coloured pets
will be more affected by heat. It is just the same dark coloured cars and wearing dark coloured clothing, the dark colours absorb the heat more than light colours, which reflect the heat away.
Coat colour can make a difference when thinking about the damaging effect of the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays.
Lighter coloured animals
are much more prone to sunburn and skin cancer than their darker coloured companions. Applying sunscreen to your pets can act as a preventative measure. This is especially important for “sunbathing” cats. Do speak to your vet before applying any lotion though. Some brands can be quite dangerous for animals.
REMEMBER!!: If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local SPCA, a security guard or police department immediately!
You don’t just expose your pet to the dangers of heat stress when you leave him in a car, you also expose him to pet theft. Thousands of pets are stolen each year from unattended cars.
TIPS FOR PETS ON HOT DAYS:
- Make “Cat and dog sicles”. When you reach for an ice lolly in the freezer, don’t leave your pets out of the fun! Make your pets’s food into a tasty, frozen treat that will cool them down.
“Catsicles.” Simply place wet cat food (or dry food mixed with water) in the bottom of a plastic cup and freeze overnight. The next day, pop the frozen food out of the cup and into your cat’s bowl for a treat they will love and that will keep them cool!
Keep peanut butter hooves or halved and frozen marrow bones in the freezer for dogs.
Dogs also enjoy it when you freeze a bucket of water with their toys hidden inside and will help them to keep cool.
- Chill their Water. Keep pets feeling cool and refreshed all day by placing a few ice cubes in their water dish. They will appreciate the chilled water on summer’s hottest days!
- Keep Refreshing their Water. Just as we wouldn’t want to take a gulp of warm water when we’re hot and thirsty, your pet is looking for cool and refreshing water too. Keep their water dish refreshed and in a cool spot so it’s always cool and satisfying.
- Air Condition or Fan their Spot. Your pets probably has a spot they occupy much of the time, so during the hot summer months, make sure the area is kept cool either with an air conditioner, fan, or both.
- Keep them Shaded. Close your curtains or make sure your pet is spending most of their time in an area that sees less sunlight during the day. If they are in a shady spot, they will be more comfortable and less likely to suffer heat-related issues.
Provide ample shade and water. Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
- Make Bare Floors Available. If your cat is typically upstairs or in a carpeted area of the house, consider letting them roam free in a non-carpeted space! On hot days, pets will lay on hardwood or tile floors for the cooler surface.
- Open Windows but check the safety. It isn’t uncommon for a cat to enjoy the soothing breeze of an open window during hotter months, but the sill can be a dangerous place. Make sure you check the safety of that window before you start opening them.
- Keep animals out of cars. The worst place for a pet in the summer –is in a car. On hot summer days, don’t leave your pet in your car for any amount of time.
Just running inside a shop for a quick errand while your pet waits in the car can be deadly — even if the weather isn’t all that hot.
Even on cooler days, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures
Even when parked in the shade on a warm day, animals (or kids or the elderly) can succumb to heat stroke or death if left in the car unattended. EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS PARTIALLY OPEN.
If you absolutely have to make a car trip with your pet, make the trip short and consider: doing it at night; keeping the car cool with air conditioning; and, bringing along ice water to give your pet a welcome drink.
- Suspend Play Time. Your pet may want to play, but if it’s hot outside you should allow them simply to rest. There will be plenty of playtime on another – less hot – day!
On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-coloured ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Tar gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
- Keep Tabs on your Pets. Even if it means taking a mid-day trip home from work or having someone stop by, make sure you are keeping an eye on your pets during hot summer days. If you see your pet panting, breathing rapidly, experiencing sweaty feet or acting restless, it may be a sign your cat is overheated. You should call your veterinarian immediately and give your cat cold water and a cool spot to lay and rest.
- Watch the humidity. 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
- Prepare for power outages. Create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.
Summer is a great season, but the heat can be hard on our best furry friends! Make sure your pet is keeping cool during the warmest summer days, and the season will be far more enjoyable for both of you.
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