Summer fun can lead to dangers for your beloved pet. Below are tips and ways to avoid putting Fluffy’s life in danger while enjoying the summer weather. Summer time brings long days, more free time, and less work. This is great for our family pets who generally never work and enjoy extra time with their humans BUT it also presents several dangers. Please keep in mind that our pets do not sweat the way that we do. They also wear fur coats and no shoes! Taking a walk in the summer heat is not only hard on our pets, but also VERY dangerous.
It is most ideal to walk your pets in the early mornings during the summer heat. Last week, in Trophy Club, TX, it is a scorching 96 degrees at 8 pm whereas it is 83 degrees at 8 am. In the middle of the day, we are exceeding 100 degrees. The cement is HOT and commonly burns our pets pads. Sadly, at the local animal emergency hospitals, we see heat strokes and burn wounds from concrete daily in the summer time. Also, please keep in mind that older animals, obese animals, long haired dogs, and brachycephalic breeds (short nosed dogs) are pre-disposed to heat stroke/stress at much lower temperatures than your average dog.
One of the most common scenarios where we as pet owners do not realize the heat we are subjecting our pets to is while we are swimming in our backyard pools or mowing the lawn. Please keep in mind 5-10 minutes in this summer heat (without even added exercise) is plenty for our fur wearing, sweat and shoe lacking, lovable family members.
Ideas of safety precautions to avoid heat stroke in your pets:
1-Walk early mornings instead of afternoon or evenings. NEVER walk in the middle of the day with your dog during the summer heat. If you must walk in the evenings due to scheduling, please take short walks and considering wetting your pet with a water hose thoroughly prior to your walk. You are basically creating the sweat mechanism for your pet. It is NOT safe to wet your pet after a walk. If they are already too hot, you can send their bodies into shock.
2-Never leave your pet in a parked car. There are cars that continue to run without keys. This is a great feature but also presents its own dangers. Generally these cars automatically turn off after 5-10 minutes. It takes a dog minutes to develop heat stroke in a car. Ideas for an individual that is traveling alone with a pet and MUST make an emergency bathroom stop. Consider pet friendly stores. My most common travel stops with my pets include: home depot, lowes, petsmart, and Petco. There are also several pet friendly hotels.
3-Leave a kiddie pool in your backyard. It is far too common that we as busy families take off to soccer practice and forget to let Fluffy inside. Dallas summer heat with no way to cool off is most definitely a safety hazard and often times a death sentence for our beloved Fluffy. A backyard kiddie pool provides a safety net for your pet. You MUST make sure to dump this pool regularly as the water gets hot and can be a nesting ground for mosquitos.
4-Be cautious during family swimming in the backyard. While we are outside swimming and enjoying the summer heat, it is very common we would like our favorite furry family members to join. Although this can be great fun, it is important that you are knowledgeable about the potential safety hazards. If your pet does not like to swim, sadly they will chose heat stroke over getting in the pool. This is exceptionally dangerous because we are cool in the pool and don’t tend to notice the struggles our family pet is enduring. Hazard number 2-the dog that swims excessively. Our dogs (particularly Labradors), love to swim. These guys are generally not in danger of heat stroke but if they swim for too long or too aggressively, other dangers present. They can get Limber tail and water toxicity. That’s right, water toxicity. Dogs drink a ton of water when they swim. Too much water=electrolyte imbalances that generally lead to seizures. Please watch your pet closely and limit their time either around the pool or in the pool to help protect them from TOO MUCH FUN this summer.
5-Electrical outages. Heat stroke can and will happen in our homes if the temperatures are too high. If your air conditioning is out in your home, please seek a local boarding facility or pet friendly hotel.
Although heat stroke is rare in cats, please make sure to provide adequate water, shade, and ventilation for these babies. Cat’s sadly most commonly get heat stroke from accidentally climbing into the dryer or the attic. Always check your dryer or attic prior to closing them.
Heat stroke is no small walk in the park. It can take over a week in the hospital, thousands of dollars, and very sadly there can be chronic organ damage if their body temperature gets too high for too long. Please always be your pets advocate. And feel free to ask me questions so I can help keep our communities pets safe.
Rachel Speed, DVM