Having a Heatwave With Pets

With summer temperatures climbing above the 90 degree range for days on end this summer, we need to take precautions to insure the safety of our pets. As humans we are able to rely on our sweat glands throughout our bodies to help keep us cool. Cats and dogs do not have this luxury. Except for a few sweat glands in their foot pads and noses, cats and dogs rely on panting to keep them cool. They exhale the hot air and inhale the cooler air to keep them from overheating. So you can imagine when the air they are inhaling is in the 90 degree range, this method of self cooling is not as efficient. This is a major reason why we never leave a pet in a closed car where, even with the windows cracked, the temperature can soar above 120 degrees in minutes. It is best to leave your pet in a nice air conditioned environment or fan-cooled area while you run those errands.

Other things you can do to keep your pets safe include walking them in the early morning or later evening when the sun is less intense. Keep in mind that the pavement can be scorching to those paw pads over prolonged exposure and look for shady places or cool grassy paths to walk on. If you have an outdoor cat or dog, bring them inside during the peak heating hours. Be sure when they are outside that there are shady areas and plenty of water available. A few ice cubes in the water keeps it nice and cool.

For summer haircuts, the one inch rule is a good one. It allows protection from sunburn as well as the coolness of a shorter cut. If your pet is a hairless or very short-haired breed, invest in pet approved sun tan lotion for those times when he will be exposed to the sun. It is also a good idea to brush your cat or dog frequently to prevent matting as mats do not allow air to circulate between the hair and skin.

A kiddy pool in the backyard can provide cooling fun for your dog. A lawn sprinkler is also a fun method for keeping your dog cool.

Watch for symptoms of overheating. If your pet shows signs of excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, dark, red gums, difficulty getting up, vomiting, or other unusual behaviors such as confusion, he may be suffering from heatstroke. Cats and dogs with flat faces such as pugs and Persians do not pant as effectively as other breeds and are more susceptible. Pets who are elderly, overweight, have heart or other medical conditions should be kept in an air conditioned environment. If you suspect heatstroke, you must get to the vet immediately as this is a life threatening condition. It can cause damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and brain. Apply towels soaked in cool water to hairless areas of the body, especially the feet during the transport to the vet.

Keep your pets safe with these tips and enjoy your summer!

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