The dog days of summer are here and we humans aren’t the only ones suffering. For our canine best friends, long hot summer days in a house without air conditioning or a backyard without shade can be misery.
All pets – even those that spend a lot of time outdoors -- are potential victims of summer heat. Because dogs and cats don’t sweat, they don’t have an efficient way to cool themselves down. That’s why heat exhaustion is one of the most common ailments to affecting pets during the summer months.
It’s important that we take steps to keep our pets cool during summer’s hottest days. Best Friends experts offer the following tips:
- Be sure your dog or cat has shade and plenty of cool water.
- Exercise your pet during the coolest times of day – early in the morning or after the sun goes down.
- If your pet enjoys water, provide a sprinkler or wading pool on hot days.
- If your cat or dog has a white or light-colored coat or has exposed skin, be careful of sunburn. Check with your veterinarian about using a sunscreen on your pet.
- NEVER leave any pet in a car in the heat. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car can rapidly increase to 120 degrees – even with the windows open.
If you see signs of heat stress in your pet -- excess panting, reddening of the area around the mouth and nose, and an increased heart rate – get him out of the heat immediately. Cool him down with cool, not icy cold, water. If symptoms persist, see your veterinarian.
On very hot days, it’s best to keep pets indoors – in the air conditioning or near a fan. If that’s not possible, consider bringing your dog to doggy day camp, where he can spend the day in the air conditioning, playing with other canines under the watchful eye of trained counselors. You’ll appreciate not having to take him for exercise in the summer heat when you get home!