Summertime is the perfect time to get outdoors and play with your pet, provided you take proper heat safety precautions. To help prevent your furry pal from overheating this summer, we provide a list of do’s and don’ts for when you head outside.
DO encourage your pet to drink
Not all pets head to their bowl and thirstily guzzle down the cool water—which they often drip all across the floor. Despite hot temperatures, some pets need to be encouraged to drink, and you can entice them to increase their water intake. In addition to providing fresh water several times a day, consider offering a water fountain for your pet to lap up running water, or concocting frozen treats that are healthy and sugar-free, unlike ice cream. Stuff a rubber Kong with your pet’s favorite canned food, yogurt, peanut butter, spray cheese, or a variety of pet-safe fruits and veggies, and freeze overnight for a long-lasting, cool treat. Many of these foods are not only higher in moisture content than dry kibble, but the extra licking and chewing at the treat also can trigger an increased thirst and desire to drink.
DON’T take your pet with you when you run errands
Although your four-legged friend may make a great riding companion, you should leave them at home when running errands. Parked cars can rapidly heat up to dangerous temperatures, despite relatively mild conditions. By the time the temperature hits 70 degrees, your car is too hot to leave your pet waiting while you run into a store. Cracking the windows does not provide enough ventilation to keep your pet cool, and a car left running can encounter issues and shut off. Let your pet relax at home in air-conditioned comfort, and bring them back a treat instead.
DO continue to exercise your pet throughout the summer
When the temperature and humidity climb, you may think hiding indoors until fall is a good idea. However, your four-legged friend still needs plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy, so opt for indoor games, such as training sessions, hide-and-seek with treats, or playing fetch down the hallway, and ensure you incorporate activity into your pet’s day.
When playing with your pet outside, monitor them closely for overheating signs, so you know when to quit. Heatstroke signs in pets include:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Disorientation or confusion
- Staggering while walking
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Pets can quickly go from heavy panting to collapse, so at the first hint of your pet overheating, get them inside and begin cooling them down. Check your pet’s temperature rectally, and if over 104 degrees, place them in the bathtub of cool water, and point a fan at their face to speed cooling. Avoid ice-cold water and wrapping them in wet towels. Offer plenty of cool water, but do not force your pet to drink. Once your pet’s temperature has lowered to 103 degrees, stop cooling measures. You should always get veterinary advice following a heat stress incident.
DON’T head outside during the hottest part of the day
The afternoon may be the best time to work on your tan, but it’s the worst time to play outdoors with your pet. Typically, the temperature and humidity level are highest during the afternoon, and lowest in the early morning, so hit the trail or the backyard early in the morning for play and exercise.
DO play water games with your pet
Sometimes, the weather is too hot to do much, but you can still stay cool when playing with your pet outside by incorporating water in your activities. Purchase a wading pool, fill with a couple inches of water, and toss in some floating toys or treats for your pooch. Or, you can hook up a sprinkler or splash pad and let your pet frolic in the streams of water. If you have deeper water available, such as a swimming pool or lake, ensure your pet knows how to swim and wears a safety vest. Always provide fresh, clean water to drink to minimize your pet’s pool or lake water intake, and rinse them off once you return home.
Although summertime can be scorching hot, you can still enjoy the season with your pet. However, monitor them closely for signs of heatstroke when outdoors, and contact our Fremont Animal Hospital team if you notice your pet is overheating.