Schools are out, and the pools are open, so summer must be here. This time of year is a favorite for many people, but the heat and humidity can be dangerous for your pet, leading to serious health complications. Our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team wants your pet to avoid a summer veterinary emergency, and we provide tips on keeping your four-legged friend safe when the inevitable heat wave rolls through.

#1: Bottoms up! Keep your pet hydrated

Pets pant more in the summer because this is the primary way they cool themselves. However, panting causes pets to lose moisture. Dehydration increases your pet’s heatstroke risk, and you must ensure your furry pal drinks enough water to remain adequately hydrated and healthy. To encourage your pet to drink an adequate amount of water, follow these tips:

  • Smorgasbord — Offer your pet a variety of water bowl options, such as ceramic and stainless steel, placing them in multiple locations throughout the house. If you have a cat, ensure the bowls are wide enough to prevent whisker stress. 
  • Clean freak — Use soap and water to wash your pet’s water bowls daily to prevent bacteria accumulation and ensure the water is palatable.
  • Packhorse — Before heading out with your pet, pack water and a portable bowl. Frequently offer your four-legged friend a drink.
  • Water feature — If your pet enjoys running water, provide a water fountain to help encourage them to drink more.
  • Soup’s on — If your pet drinks very little water no matter how you serve it, consider adding water to their food to increase their fluid intake.

#2: Abandon your pet

While your pet may feel like you are abandoning them when you leave them at home, sometimes this is the best option. If the weather is especially hot or humid, your pet may be better off staying in your air-conditioned home. In addition, if you are running errands to establishments that are not pet-friendly, leave your pet at home because leaving them unattended in the car is never an option. Temperatures inside a parked vehicle can quickly reach dangerous levels, putting your pet in serious danger. Leaving the vehicle’s windows cracked or parking in the shade does not keep temperatures at a safe level. To ensure your pet stays cool, comfortable, and safe in your home, run the air conditioner and close the blinds and curtains. 

#3: Let your pet be a slacker

On hot, humid days, exercise your pet safely. Avoid strenuous activities and walk during the cooler times of the day such as the early morning and evening. When on outings, take frequent breaks in shaded, well-ventilated areas to let your pet cool down, and head home if your pet’s energy level starts to wane.

#4: Be a shade hunter for your pet

Choose shady routes when walking your pet. This helps prevent overheating, protecting their skin from sunburn and their paws from pavement burn. In addition, ensure your four-legged friend always has access to shaded areas when outside. 

#5: Create a water park for your pet

Although the heat and humidity can be oppressive during the summer, your pet can still safely enjoy time outdoors. Create a water park in your backyard to help your four-legged friend have fun and stay cool. A kiddie pool is a great way for your pet to keep cool, whether they enjoy splashing or lounging in water. Your furry pal may also enjoy running through the sprinkler when the weather is too warm for other activities.

#6: Give your pet a summer trim

If your pet has a long hair coat, consider giving them a summer trim to help keep them cool, but never shave your furry pal. Your pet needs at least an inch of hair so their body can regulate their temperature. In addition, hair helps protect them from sunburn. Grooming your pet is also extremely important during the summer. To increase air circulation around your four-legged friend’s skin, brush them regularly to remove excess hair and prevent mats. 

#7: Put your pet on a diet

Overweight pets have an increased risk of heatstroke and numerous other serious health complications. Calculate your pet’s daily energy requirements, and to ensure you are feeding them the appropriate amount, measure your four-legged friend’s meal portions. Always keep in mind that our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team can devise a safe-weight loss strategy for your pet if they need to lose a few pounds. 

#8: Keep an eagle eye on your pet

Watch your pet closely to help them avoid getting too hot. Dogs’ initial overheating signs include lethargy, excessive panting and excessive drool. Cats’ first overheating sign is open-mouthed breathing. As your pet’s condition worsens, signs include bright red mucous membranes, diarrhea, spontaneous bleeding, collapse, and seizures.

#9: Brush up on your veterinary emergency response

If your pet overheats, practicing heatstroke first aid can help save their life. If you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke, follow these tips:

  • Move your pet to a cool area, out of direct sunlight.
  • Offer your four-legged friend water but don’t force them to drink by pouring water in their mouth.
  • Use a rectal thermometer to take your pet’s temperature, so you can monitor their progress.
  • Submerge your furry pal in tepid water or pour water over their body to help start the cooling process. Avoid using ice or cold water, because doing so can cause shock.
  • Seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

Follow these tips to help ensure your pet avoids a heat-related emergency this summer. If your four-legged friend is carrying a few extra pounds, contact our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team so we can devise a safe weight-loss strategy to help them have a safe and more enjoyable summer.