As we enter the hottest and final stages of summer, many families across the country are throwing pool parties, barbecues, going on hikes, and finding a variety of ways to enjoy the great outdoors, often including their pet in the summer festivities.
Animals have similar sensitivities to the sun and heat that people do and are susceptible to sunburns and sun poisoning.
∗ Rabbits and cats need to be “in-doors only”
Rabbits are extremely sensitive to heat and can die in extreme temperatures. To keep them comfortable and happy, they need to be kept either inside or in a climate controlled hutch.
In-door cats typically live longer and are healthy than cats those who are allowed outside; cats who are allowed to roam typically live less than 3 years, while indoor cats have a lifespan of 15 years.
∗ Avoid the hottest parts of the day
The best time to say inside will vary, depending on where you live, but a good guideline is to do activities (like hiking) early in the morning or late in the evening and keep your dog indoors from 10am – 4pm, when the sun is at it’s highest and shade is scarce.
∗ Have access to plenty of water and take frequent breaks
If you’re going out hiking or enjoying nature with your pet, be sure to bring extra water for them to drink. Many pet shops sell collapsible, waterproof bowls that are great for travel, and some places sell a “dog backpack” that looks like a cloth saddle, so your pet can carry their own water.
∗ Invest in dog booties
If you do need to take your dog out in the middle of the day, putting booties on them will help protect their feet from extreme heat and cold. During summer, asphalt can reach temperatures of 160° F and stay that hot for hours later. Ouch!
∗ Supervise your pet outside and at pool parties
Just like children, pets can have water-related emergencies so always supervise your dog when s/he is swimming and remember to lock the pool gate when everyone is done swimming. At outdoor parties, keep pets away from the barbecue and areas where food is being prepared to avoid burns and accidents.
Any time your pet is outside, BY LAW they must always have access to shelter and water. Have several plastic bowls with weighted bottoms set up for your dog to access. I don’t recommend using metal bowls because metal gets hot quickly and stays hot for hours; no one wants a hot drink in the summer, not even your dog!
NEVER tie your dog to a tree to give them “shelter”; it isn’t an adequate escape from the heat and dogs have wound themselves around the tree-trunk and, unable to get to water, died. The best thing to do is let them be free in the backyard, and provide shelter by installing a doggie-door or providing a spacious, doghouse.
∗ Use sunscreen and watch out for heat exhaustion
Dogs with pink noses are susceptible to sunburn, so it’s important to use a pet sunscreen; some owners eventually tattoo their dog’s nose to stop the sunburns.
During summer exercise or activities, watch for heat exhaustion. Signs can be any of the following:
1) heavy panting and hyperventilation (deep breathing),
2) heavy salivation then gums becoming dry
3) weakness, confusion, or inattention
4) vomiting and/or diarrhea and sometimes bleeding.
If you feel that your pet is having a heat related emergency, immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital. If you live in the Phoenix area, there are 5 Emergency Animal Clinics serving valley pets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; locations are in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Peoria, and Avondale.
Read more about Dog healthcare and Heat Stroke in Dogs.
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Skye Campbell Freelance Writer
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