Keeping Pets Safe from the Summer Heat

Aug 30, 2020 | Personal Insurance

It’s already summer so your pets just like us can also feel the summer heat. Summer season can be both uncomfortable and dangerous for pets and people. It’s hard to cope with the increase in temperatures and also thick humidity. Also, things can really be tough in places with double or triple intense heat and in power outage places caused by storms. What do you exactly need to do during this season for your pets?

Hot Weather Safety Tips

People love to spend sunny days of summer outdoors with their pet dogs. However, this can also bring danger to your furry companions. In order to prevent your pets from overheating, here are some following simple precautions provided by The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

  • Make sure to visit your veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up. Have your pets get tested for heartworm if they don’t have a year-round preventative medication.
  • Your pets can be dehydrated immediately so give them plenty and clean water when they’re out during hot or humid weather. Also, make sure they have a shady, cool place so they can get out of the sun and be mindful that they do not over-exercise and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot outside.
  • Be mindful when you exercise your pet during the summer season. Adjust the intensity and duration of exercise according to the temperature of the day. Limit exercise to early morning or evening on very hot days. Be also careful with pets with white-colored ears since they are more vulnerable to skin cancer. Meanwhile, short-nosed pets can have difficulty in breathing.
  • Walk your dog on the grass instead of asphalt because it can get very hot and burn your pet’s paws. To keep your dog from dehydrating, always carry with water to you as well. 
  • Be wary of the symptoms of overheating in pets. Signs like excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, and even collapse show that they are already overheating. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomit together with a high body temperature of more than 104 degrees.
  • Your pets with flat faces like your pugs and Persian cats are more vulnerable to heatstroke since they cannot exactly pant. These kinds of pets together with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases should be in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. Some more signs of heatstroke are glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. 
  • Remember to not leave your pets alone in a parked vehicle since it can lead to fatal heat stroke and this is illegal in most states. Don’t ever think to leave them inside even for just a few minutes since temperatures inside vehicles can rise immediately to dangerous levels. For instance, on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a vehicle with the windows slightly opened can reach up to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. The temperature will then reach 120 degrees after 30 minutes. Your pet will suffer organ damage and eventually will die inside a hot car.
  • Do not also leave your pets alone around a pool since not all dogs are good swimmers. Let them become familiar with water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when they are together in boats with you. Rinse your dogs after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from their furs and make sure that they don’t drink pool water as it contains chlorine and other chemicals that are harmful to your pets.
  • Make sure that your windows are screened since they pose a real threat to your pets since they could fall out of them. Keep the unscreened windows closed and be sure that the adjustable ones are firmly secured.
  • It is alright to trim the longer hair of your dogs but never shave them. The thick layers of your dogs’ coats protect your pets from overheating and sunburn. For cats, brushing their hair more often than usual can prevent possible problems caused by too much heat. Also, make sure that the sunscreen and insect repellent you use on your pets can really be alright to use on them so be sure to ask and consult your veterinarian first.
  • When the temperature in your area is very high, make sure that your pets don’t stay on hot asphalt. If you let your pets stay on hot asphalt, the temperature of your pets can heat up quickly and sensitive paws can burn. We suggest not to bring your pets during these times. 
  • If you have barbecues at your homes, make sure that the food is out of reach to your pets since they can be poisonous. Also, keep alcoholic beverages away from your pets since they can lead to intoxication, depression, and comatose. Another thing to remember is that snacks are not treats for your pets. Change of diets for your pets may give you dogs or cats severe digestive ailments. Do not give raisins, grapes, onions, chocolates, and products with the sweetener xylitol to them.
  • Never rely on fans. Our pets respond differently and they mostly sweat primarily through their feet. Fans are not effective for pets unlike for humans.
  • Always cool your pet inside and outside. You can do popsicles that are meant for dogs and always provide water for them whether they are inside or outside hanging with you. We suggest preparing a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat so you could keep them from overheating indoors and even outside. Soak them in cool water so they could also stay cool for up to three days. Soaking them too during baths could help them if baths don’t make them feel stressed.
  • Keep parasites off your pets. During the summer season, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other parasites are practically everywhere. They carry tapeworms, heartworms, and diseases such as Lyme or Bartonella that can put your pet at risk and give them illnesses. Consult your veterinarian in which medical prescriptions can be used for your pets in case they harbor these parasites.
  • Consider a life vest. Dogs enjoy spending time in cool water, pool, lake, or ocean. Be mindful and be very careful where you let them stay since not all your dogs can swim well. Even though some do know how to swim, they may not know how to get out of the water. Also, take note of the strong currents and riptides that can sweep and drown a dog in the sea. If you take out your dog for a ride or sail in a boat, make sure that your pets also wear a life vest that has a bright color so in case you meet an accident, you will be able to find them. Be sure to look out for your pets when they are near water.

Other tips to keep your pet cool:

In order for your pet to keep cool and prevent heating up immediately, always be mindful of their behavior. Watch out for excessive panting, breathing difficulties, weakness, or drooling. Heat exhaustion on pets can definitely be fatal and can lead to death. In order to avoid this, always make sure that your pets have access to fresh drinking water and have sufficient shelter for protection. Keep in mind that the shadow of the sun is also on the move. There are some more tips for you to take note that we compiled.

Dogs

Unlike us humans, dogs respond differently to extremely hot weather. For us humans, sweating is a natural and effective cooling for us. However, it is different for dogs. Be wary that they can only sweat in small amounts through their paws and rely on panting to cool down. This makes them immune to heat stress during the summer season. People who own pets should have extra care with their older or overweight pets, brachycephalic breeds, and those pets suffering from cardiac conditions.

  • One of the things to have your dogs cool down is to let them enjoy a half-filled shallow children’s pool. Make sure that they can easily get in and get out.
  • Another tip is to place ice cubes in an indoor bowl. For an outdoor bowl, we suggest freezing a big block of ice.
  • Giving them treats through ice blocks is another good way in cooling them down and staying hydrated. Just place your dog’s treats in water and freeze them inside an icecream container.
  • Another thing is you can also use cooling mats which can be bought from most of your local pet stores. These can be used as their beds. Your other pets may also use this.

Cats

For cats, they usually enjoy the warm weather. However, of course, they still need to cool down like other animals too. They will lie down on a cool floor if they feel hot so make sure that your home has shaded areas. Cats will just usually sleep throughout the day during the summer season instead of moving around and feeling hot so it’s not a big worry.

  • Cats are particular in the way they consume their food. They tend to prefer their water to be placed away from what they eat. Just like your dogs, it is very important to also keep your cats hydrated so make sure that you place their food separated from their water. Some cats also prefer running water from the faucet or you can get them pet water fountains so they will be encouraged to drink more water.
  • Cats are known for drinking water in different containers that they can find so we suggest placing ice water in glasses and bowls around the house.
  • Another great tip in cooling them down is by stroking your cat with a damp cloth and making sure that they allow it or else, you will be filled with cat scratches. The best places to rub them with a damp cloth are their paws, bellies, and the outside of their ears.
  • Always brushing your cat can also help them cool down. Too much fur works as insulation and can make them overheat easily. If you decide to shave your long-haired cat, make sure to leave at least a full inch of fur to prevent sunburn

Know the signs of heatstroke:

  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive drooling o Unsteadiness
  • Abnormal gum and tongue color
  • Collapse

If you find an animal suffering from heatstroke:

  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area
  • Offer the animal a small amount of lukewarm water to drink
  • Spray or soak animal’s neck, abdomen and inner thighs in lukewarm water
  • Use cool but not cold water (We do not suggest using ice since this causes blood vessels to constrict thus limiting heat loss.)
  • Take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Hot cars can kill

The inside of your car can heat up very fast on a warm day. For instance, the temperature inside your car can reach 39°C in less than 5 minutes on a 30°C day. It can go up to 49°C in about 30 minutes at the same temperature of 30°C of the day. This can occur even though your car is under the shade and the windows are also open.

For dogs, their normal body temperature is around 38.5°C. Just like we have mentioned before, they can only sweat a small amount through their paws and rely on panting to cool down. If you leave your dogs in a hot car even with the windows slightly open, panting is still not enough to keep their body temperature within a safe range. They can hold up to 41°C for a very short time. However, this will quickly lead to brain damage and eventually death. Be mindful that the young, overweight or elderly animals or those with short muzzles or thick, dark-colored coats are most at risk of overheating.

Never leave your pets alone in a car at any time of the day. If you do not intend to bring your dogs outside your car, then it’s much better to just leave them at your home. If you ever find a dog locked in a car in distress, we suggest calling the police or your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as soon as possible. However, do not smash the windows yourselves as it can put both of you and the dog in danger.

Beware of sunburn

Just like humans, animals can suffer from sunburn too. Pets who are particularly fair-skinned or light-hair are in danger to the sun’s harsh rays. although your pet’s fur provides sun protection, they can still have a sunburn. This can lead to skin cancer in cats and dogs so it’s advisable to apply sunblock to your pets every 3 to 4 hours on areas that have no or only a little hair.

You can purchase pet-friendly sunscreen to use on the tips of your pet’s ears, at the end of their nose and on their stomach. These areas are the most commonly sunburnt areas. Please be reminded never to use normal sunscreen that is being used on humans since the ingredients include zinc oxide which is harmful to animals. Pet-friendly sunscreens are the best options.

Remember the 5-second rule

Your pet can also feel the heat on the pavement or on the sand. If the ground is too hot for you, then it is also the same case for your pet. Your pet’s feet can get burnt and blistered on hot pavements, asphalt, or on scorching beach sand. Hot black iron-rich sands that are found along the Western Coast can cause irreparable harm to the paws of your beloved furry friends. Make sure to always check the temperature of the pavement or the sand for about five seconds by placing the back of your hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, then you shouldn’t be taking your pets out for a walk at that certain time of the day.

Protect your dog from a deadly summer virus

  • Canine parvovirus is a serious health matter for dogs all year-round which can be highly infectious and fatal at most times. Dog owners should be giving triple care for their pooch during spring and summer since this virus usually reaches peak numbers during this season.
  • Parvovirus can be transmitted from dog to dog through direct or indirect contact with feces or vomit of an infected dog and can be highly contagious. Make sure that your pets are fully vaccinated so they can prevent obtaining this virus and contracting this disease since taking your dog for a walk down the street or to the park can easily place them at risk.
  • Symptoms of parvovirus include lethargy, severe vomiting, and bloody diarrhea that results in life-threatening dehydration.
  • It is important that you visit your veterinarian first and have your pets completely vaccinated before letting them outside. Always consult your veterinarian for advice if you are not sure about the condition of your dogs.

Traveling with your pet

  • Make sure that you plan ahead if you are having a road trip with your pet this summer. Planning ahead will ensure the comfort and safety of every person or pet joining in your car.
  • In order to prepare your pets for a long road trip, we suggest taking them on several short car trips so they will get used to it. This is essential especially if you want to take your cat with you as they are not used to traveling. Letting your pet become familiar with your car and being transported around will help your pet get used to what will happen during the long trip. When you train your pet, head to places where you are sure that they will also have fun, not just a trip to the vet. This kind of approach will help your pet associate car trips with having fun with you.
  • Be also careful if you take your pets for a trip since a moving animal inside a car can endanger your lives. They may distract or disrupt the driver. If an accident happens and there is a collision, an unrestrained animal can injure themselves and every person in the car too. We suggest having a pet seatbelt or car seat that would help prevent your pet from jumping out of the window. You can find these at your local pet stores.
  • Always remember that while traveling to new places can be exciting for people, it can be stressful for your pets. Make sure that your pets have identity tags with them when you travel with them in case they get lost. A microchip can also help. It’s much better to prepare these things than losing your pet forever.

Shade is essential for all animals

  1. All kinds of animals such as chickens, dogs, cats, horses, goats, sheep, or cows need to have an adequate shelter that will protect them from the sun.
  2. For dogs, it is important that they always have access to shade if you keep them outside. Dog houses are not ideal shelters for them during the summer season since they can trap heat. Also, remember that dark-colored dogs absorb more heat than lighter ones. An ideal shelter for them is tree shade and some tarpaulins since they don’t block airflow.
  3. For cats, make sure that they have plenty of shade outside such as your trees and bushes. When they are inside your house, we suggest closing some of your blinds and curtains so they could have a cool spot to lie upon and snooze.

Grooming is helpful too

  1. Grooming for pets is essential during summertime and can be helpful in preventing parasites, maintaining temperature regulation, and is also a protection from sunburn. Some of your pets like dogs with double or woolen coats and cats that are long-haired will require you to groom them every day and sometimes might need help from a professional. Regular grooming will also help your pets with their tangled coats or hair. This can be both painful and will also trap moisture and heat so we suggest bringing your pet to a professional groomer. This is important for dogs who like to have fun in the sea or roll in the sand during the summer season.
  2. Cutting or trimming the hair of your pet to avoid tangled coats or hair would be great. However, never resort to shaving your pet since the coat can help prevent sunburn.
  3. Another thing to check regularly is the ears of your cats and dogs. This is also important during the summer especially if they join you in swimming. Dogs that have ears that fold over are prone to ear infections and this is where fleas, ticks, and mites hide. Make sure to also check your pet’s paws since they can gather debris between their toes.

Be careful of parasites

  • Parasites such as hookworms, heartworms, fleas, and ticks are usual during the summer. They are not visible to the human eye but they are a huge problem for you and your pets. They can make your pet itchy and transmit diseases to other pets and people too. Don’t forget to visit your vet for your flea and worm treatments so your pets won’t get irritated anymore.
  • Worms can attack your pets in different ways. They may come into contact with their feces or areas, objects, or food that are contaminated. Some worms can even infest your pet through their paws. Meanwhile, ticks can land onto your pet’s hair when they pass through grassy areas, forests, or fields.
  • Your pets can also pick fleas from the environment, from other animals, even from people too or objects that have fleas or eggs. Flea eggs can be inactive for a very long time especially in a garden, on a carpet, or in furniture inside your house. About 5% of the flea population is adult fleas that can land on your pets and 95% are eggs larvae. In order to effectively control fleas, you have to control all the stages of a flea’s life cycle.
  • When fleas infest your dogs and cats, especially your puppies and kittens, they become anemic since they consume up to 15 times their own weight in your pet’s blood almost every day. Some pets are sensitive to bites and can develop flea allergy dermatitis. This can be extremely uncomfortable and irritating for your pet since it causes intense itching, hair loss, inflamed skin, and self-trauma.
  • Fortunately, there’s a lot of effective parasite control options to protect your pets and your family. Always consult your veterinarian first so that you would know the most appropriate solution for your pet according to where you live, the risk of other parasites in your area, and your pet’s own situation.

Other activities for your cats and dogs to consider instead of going outside under the heat

  • Have time for them. Make a new routine for them with designated time together each passing day. Purina suggests designating at least 15 minutes at the same time every day for a week. Find a quiet space for them while petting them for the whole 15 minutes. You may praise them or tell them a story while doing so.
  • Have car rides with them. If the weather allows and it’s not really hot, bring your dogs for car rides. Have the windows rolled down while driving so that he can witness the sights, sounds, and smells.
  • Use toys that exhibit movement. Both dogs and cats are fond of moving objects, lights, and sounds. You can place a bird feeder outside your window so your pets can watch. You may also use light catchers, lasers, feather wands, and cat dancer toys.
  • Couch potato plays for your pets while you binge-watch your favorite shows. Having more time inside your home means more time to binge-watch TV shows. Your pet may enjoy cuddling with you while you watch your favorite shows. You may give them a basket of toys nearby such as stuffed animals, feather wands, and tug-toys.
  • Give your pets time to explore. Our cats and dogs rely on their owners to give them new and more exciting experiences. Make old things new again by not letting them inside your bedroom for a week to give your pet a space to explore again. Hiding treats or their favorite toys before reopening the bedroom can also help. Purina also suggests rotating toys to create newness.
  • Make sensory spots for cats. Your pet cats will sit on almost everything including things that seem uncomfortable like keyboards. One explanation for this is cats love exploring different textures and smells. We shouldn’t shoo them away from these spots. Instead, we should create dedicated sensory spots for them so they could explore, sit, or even nap upon. Purina recommends having a basket or a box near a window or vent and we should put new material in it each week.
  • Have an enjoyable picnic with your pets. You can do picnics in your own backyard and even on your living room floor. We suggest creating a comfortable spot for them with your pet’s favorite toys and some containers with your pet’s favorite food, treats, and toys.
  • Have a treasure hunt for them. Hunting for food can be enjoyable for both cats and dogs. For dogs, hide their treats or toys in different boxes and encourage your dogs to hunt for the hidden treasures. Purina suggests that you should let your dogs watch you first do the treasure hunt. Then, keep him out of the room when you hide the treasure. For your cats, hide small amounts of her dry cat food in different spots around the house.
  • Have classic games with them. Hide and seek and fetch and tag are of course good games for your pets too. If you play hide and seek with your dog, give them vocal cues to help him find you.

Get Your Pet An Insurance

What more else can you do to protect your beloved fur babies? Get them pet insurance! This insurance may cover for risks for your pets. Of course, if you already have one, it’s best to review your policy. You may be missing benefits or discounts available for your pets.

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