As the temperatures rise, it is important that pets and pet owners alike take precautions to stay safe and healthy in the summer heat. While many animals spend quite a bit of their time outdoors, some extra precautions are necessary this time of year to prevent heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and other hot-weather ailments.
The Humane Society of Utah suggests the following hot weather tips to keep your pets panting happily (and not heat-ily) this summer season:
- Keep pets indoors more often during extreme heat, do not leave them outside all-day
- Make sure pets have a cool place to retreat to in the yard, such as a shady spot. Keep in mind that some outdoor dog houses can be hotter than the outdoor temps
- Cool and fresh water should be available to pets at all times, both indoors and outdoors
- If the asphalt is too hot for your hands and feet, it is too hot for your pets. Place your hand on the sidewalk for 10 seconds to test the temperature
- Provide pet-safe frozen treats to help your animals cool down
- Make sure your pet is current on all their vaccinations, especially if they are going to be in close contact with other animals
- Check pets for ticks, foxtails, and grass seeds following outdoor activity
- Ensure that your yard is free of plants which are toxic to dogs and cats such as lilies, sago palms, and rhododendrons, and be careful with use of insecticides and weed killers, which may be poisonous to your pets
- Make use of pet-safe sunscreens and bug repellents
- Avoid leaving windows open around unattended pets. Even with a screen, there is a risk your pet could fall out or jump through the opening
- If your pet wants to share your plate at a summer BBQ, know what foods are not pet-safe, such as onions, avocados, olives, garlic, grapes, cooked bones, and alcohol.
- Do not leave pets unattended near water– not all pets can swim! Limit the amount of pool water your pets drink, chlorine and other chemicals can be dangerous, and rinse your pets off after taking a swim in chlorinated or salty water. If your pet loves to cool off with a dip, consider investing in a pet lifejacket.
- If you have a brachycephalic (short-nosed, flat-faced) breed such as a pug, Persian cat, or any type of bulldog, know that their short noses cause them to overheat quicker than other animals. Overweight and older pets are also at higher risk for heat stroke, so keep these furry friends in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
- Do not leave pets unattended in vehicles! Doing so is a major risk for heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat-related death. Even if the vehicle is on and air-conditioning is running, leaving pets unsupervised can lead to other emergencies such as the animal accidentally shifting a gear or engine failure.
In addition, please take the time to become familiar with the symptoms of heat-related illnesses in pets. If you think your pet may be experiencing heat stroke, rush them to your nearest vet:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Increased heat and respiratory rate
- Mild weakness, stupor, or collapse
- Bloody diarrhea or vomit
- An elevated body temperature over 104 degrees