Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors with your pet, sharing good times and adventures. But, a day of fun in the sun can quickly take a dangerous turn if you or your pet become overheated, so you should closely monitor them during any outdoor summer excursion. Our Palm City Animal Medical Center team wants to help you avoid a heat-related pet health emergency this summer, and offers some tips to keep your pet safe, cool, and comfortable.
How do pets keep cool?
Pets cool their body temperature by panting, which involves quickly inhaling, humidifying, and exhaling air, which increases water evaporation, and cools their body from the inside out. You sweat through your skin to cool down, but your pet has fewer sweat glands, most of them located on their paw pads—the paw prints you see on your hardwood floors could be because of sweating. The sweat that paw pad glands produce cools your pet, and helps them grip slippery surfaces by providing traction.
What happens when a pet overheats?
Like people, pets can easily overheat when temperatures rise. Pets’ heat-related conditions can lead to organ failure, and be life-threatening if you do not take immediate action. If your pet is overheated, they may pant heavily, become lethargic, and drink excessively because they are dehydrated. To protect your pet from heatstroke and other heat-related conditions, monitor them closely for overheating signs. Your pet’s heatstroke signs may include:
- Excessive panting
- Bright red gums
What should I do if my pet overheats?
While outside with your pet on a hot or humid day, keep an eye out for signs they may be overheating, act quickly to cool them, and seek immediate veterinary care. If your pet shows any overheating sign, take the following steps:
- Head indoors — Bring your pet inside to an air-conditioned room or in front of a fan.
- Fll up the bathtub — Place your pet in cool bath water. Do not use ice or extremely cold water, as a sudden body temperature change can be dangerous.
- Offer water — Provide your pet with water, but do not force them to drink.
- Monitor your pet’s temperature —Once your pet’s temperature drops to 103 degrees, immediately bring them to Palm City Animal Medical Center.
How can I help my pet avoid overheating?
At times, summer’s high temperature and humidity levels can be unbearable and unsafe. Although your pet may be intent on spending as much time outdoors as usual, tempt them with safer, cooler alternative activities, such as:
- Limiting outdoor activity — On extremely hot or humid days, walk your pet during cooler hours such as early morning or late evening. Keep walks short, or try an activity such as swimming to help your pet release energy while staying cool.
- Keeping your pet hydrated — When at home, ensure your pet always has access to fresh, cool water throughout the day, and remember to always bring along plenty of water for outdoor activities.
- Offering refreshing treats — Offer your pet hydrating treats, such as water-rich foods you have frozen in ice cube trays. These delicious pet-safe snacks can be made from the following fruits and vegetables:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
- Providing a shady spot — While outdoors, pets must have access to a cool shaded area. When you hike with your pet, take trails with plenty of tree cover, and avoid going out during the midday heat.
- Providing a cooling mat or vest — Cooling vests can lower your pet’s temperature by taking away excess body heat through evaporation over time. Cooling mats are pressure-activated to absorb your pet’s body heat, and can provide relief for several hours.
- Protecting your pet’s paw pads — When heading out for a walk, test the pavement with your hand to ensure the surface won’t burn your pet’s paw pads. If you cannot keep your hand comfortably on the surface for 10 seconds, the pavement is too hot for your pet. Instead, walk your pet in shaded grassy areas, and if possible, carry your pet when crossing hot pavements and roads.
- Leaving your pet home — Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. A vehicle’s interior temperature can reach dangerously high levels in minutes, and parking in the shade or leaving the windows rolled down is not enough to keep your pet cool and safe. If you know you will be running an errand at a business where pets are unwelcome, leave your pet at home where they will be cool, comfortable, and safe.
Follow these heat safety tips to help your pet stay cool this summer. Remember, we are always here to help to treat your pet in case of a heat-related emergency. If your pet displays overheating signs, immediately contact our Palm City Animal Medical Center team.