cute beagle lying on the grass in the parkEnjoying the outdoors with your pet is one of the perks of summer. The warm weather provides longer days, opportunities for trips to the lake or pool, and more play time in the yard–all of which can be hard to resist for people and pets alike.

Summer also means taking the necessary precautions to help protect your pet from heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, overexertion, and heatstroke. You don’t want to spoil your summer and endanger your pet, resulting in an emergency call to your veterinarian, or worse.

Keeping Your Pet Happy and Hydrated

Providing an endless supply of fresh, clean drinking water is essential to keeping your pet healthy and safe during the summer heat.

While playing outside, allow your pet as many water breaks as he or she needs, and when you go for a walk or hike, don’t forget to bring along enough drinking water (and a doggy dish to drink from) to keep your pet hydrated and refreshed. It may also be helpful to place a small pool in the yard where your pet can cool off by wading into the water.

Shade

In addition to water breaks, make sure your pet takes breaks in the shade to escape the intense rays of the summer sun. Not only does shade help your pet rejuvenate but it also helps protect your pet against other heat-related problems.

For instance, if your pet has shorter or whiter hair, he or she is more susceptible to sunburn. Pets with black or dark hair, on the other hand, are often more vulnerable to overheating because of how well their dark coat absorbs heat from the sun. Plenty of shade can help protect all pets from the threat of heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Playtime

Limit your play time with your pet. Although exercise is good for your pet, too much activity during the hot summer weather can mean serious illness for your pet. This is especially true if they are not allowed ample time to rest in the shade (or to take breaks in an air-conditioned home) and rehydrate during play time.

The best bet for keeping your pet safe during physical activity is to schedule walks and playtime with your pet for the early morning hours just after sunrise, or the cooler evening hours. By doing this, you will help your pet avoid too much exposure to the summer heat.

Heatstroke and Your Pet

Heatstroke is a very real and very serious problem for pets in the summer. Symptoms of  heatstroke include:

  • Excessive drooling and panting
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Pale gums

Although your pet could succumb to heatstroke for a number of reasons during the hot summer months, the leading cause of heat stroke in pets is leaving him or her in a parked vehicle.

As the temperature outside rises, so does the temperature within your car. If it is 90° outside, the temperature inside the car will rise to 109° in just 10 minutes (“I was just paying for my gasoline!”), and will be 119° in 20 minutes (“I was just grabbing a gallon of milk!”). Those temperatures are almost unbearable for humans, let alone a pet covered in fur who releases body heat through panting and via the pads on his or her feet.

In addition to taking precautions to prevent heatstroke, be aware of your pet’s physical condition; pets that are very young, older, arthritic, or overweight run the greatest risk of suffering from heatstroke in the hot summer heat.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, call us immediately. We will coach you on how to lower your pet’s body temperature safely, and talk to you about whether emergency treatment is necessary for your pet’s situation.