Here in Palm City, Florida, it’s no secret that temperatures can skyrocket during the summer, along with the humidity levels. While some people enjoy such conditions, your furry pal may think otherwise, and prefer to ride out the extreme weather indoors. However, your dog will still need to go outside for exercise and elimination purposes. They may also love playing outdoors, no matter the heat, and it’s up to you to keep them safe from the dangers of heatstroke. Our Palm City Animal Medical Center team shares some top ways to keep your furry pal safe during hot weather.
#1: Groom your pet appropriately for the summer season
While shaving your pet may seem like the best way to keep them cool during the summer, removing their protective hair coat actually does more harm than good. Your pet’s fur acts as insulation, keeping them warm during the winter, and cool in the summer. Trimming long-haired pets can help remove some of the excessive bulk, but daily brushing is the best, most appropriate grooming. Regular brushing removes dead fur, which can form heat-trapping mats. If your pet is thin-furred or has hairless areas, you can apply a layer of pet-friendly sunscreen to help protect them from the sun’s harmful rays. Avoid using sunscreen meant for people, which can be toxic for pets.
#2: Exercise your pet during the coolest part of day
Typically, early morning is the best time to be outdoors with your pet. The temperature and humidity are often at their lowest point, and the asphalt has had time to cool off overnight. Although the evening may also be cool, the pavement will hold heat from the sun’s rays, and walking your pet on sidewalks and paved pathways will burn their sensitive paw pads.
Help your furry pal remain cool outside by choosing water activities. Play a game of fetch under the sprinkler, or drop your pet’s toys in a few inches of water in a wading pool for a fun “diving” session. While playing, closely monitor your pet, and call it quits when they begin to pant heavily or rapidly, as some pets will push themselves past their limit to continue playing, exercising, or working.
#3: Leave your pet at home when running errands
Although your pet may love car rides, leave them in the safety and comfort of your home in hot weather. A parked car can rapidly become too hot, despite being parked in the shade, and the windows cracked. Leaving the car running is not a safe option, as your pet may inadvertently bump into the keys, gearshift, or air conditioning controls. Keep your four-legged friend safe and entertained while you run errands by leaving them at home with a long-lasting treat or new toy.
#4: Freeze treats for your pet
Nothing hits the spot better on a hot summer day than a frozen treat. Ice cream can help your pet cool off, but can also cause gastrointestinal upset, since most pets are lactose-intolerant. Instead, offer your pet a safe, but tasty, frozen treat. Stuff a rubber Kong with their favorite snack, such as peanut butter, yogurt, spray cheese, canned food, tuna, berries, or baby food, and freeze overnight, to provide long-lasting enjoyment the next day. You can also make your pet tasty ice cubes from tuna juice, the liquid from canned food, or low-sodium chicken broth.
#5: Watch for heatstroke signs in your pet
The best way to keep your pet safe in the heat is to monitor them closely for heatstroke signs when they’re outdoors. Despite ensuring they have plenty of fresh water and shade, and keeping their activity to a minimum, your pet may still overheat if the weather conditions are too severe. Heavy or rapid panting is the first indicator your pet is overheating, and, if left untreated, can progress to heatstroke. You may notice the following signs:
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Bright red gums and tongue
- Delayed responses
- Difficulty walking
If you notice these initial heatstroke signs in your pet, bring them indoors, and begin cooling them down and speeding heat evaporation with air conditioning, a cool water bath, and a fan.
Keeping your pet cool and comfortable during the summer is critical for their health. If your furry pal overheats and shows heatstroke signs, contact our Palm City Animal Medical Center team immediately.