Global warming has us collectively worrying about our planet’s future. Additionally, the fact that temperatures are rising has many effects on our daily lives.
Everyone enjoys a sunny day but too much heat can do us harm and harm our pets too, especially if their health is already fragile. The most immediate effect of heat that every pet parent needs to be aware of is heatstroke. Heatstroke is a potentially life-threatening condition for pets. This occurs when body temperature rises above its normal range and the cooling mechanisms our pets have (namely panting) just aren’t enough to reverse it.
In order to keep your pet safe from the harmful effects of heat, we’ve collected these tips to help your cat or your dog stay cool this season:
Shade and water
Shade will keep your pet cool on the outside. Cold water that you can add ice cubes to, will help refresh them from the inside. Pupsicles made by freezing fresh fruit or freezing diluted meat stock will help your pet avoid the heat, whilst also providing a tasty form of enrichment.
Cracking the window is not enough
If your car is parked in the sun, no amount of window cracking will keep your pet safe from the effects of heat. Dogs die in hot cars isn’t just a soundbyte from a pet awareness campaign. Anyone working in the animal health sector can tell you just how many pets suffering from dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heatstroke they see every time the temperatures rise. Unknowing pet parents, with the best intentions, can be doing their beloved pets harm by leaving them in the car. Even if it’s just to “pop in the store for a minute”.
Do you have a high risk pet?
Just like people, some pets will be at higher risk from the effects of overheating. Do you have a senior cat? A hyperactive puppy? A flat-faced breed like a pug or a french bulldog? Is your pet pregnant? If they are very young or very old. If they are pregnant or immunocompromised (due to disease or treatments like chemotherapy). If they are a flat-faced breed or a very furry breed with a dense undercoat. All these conditions make these pets more prone to suffer the effects of high temperatures, so you’ll need to be extra careful with them on hot days.
In case of heatstroke
What is heatstroke? Heatstroke is a sever condition where your pet’s temperature rises above it’s normal limits and has serious effects on their health. It may even lead to death. You can learn more about heatstroke here. In case you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke you should get your cat or dog to a vet as soon as possible. On your way the vet, keep your pet cool with a wet towel thrown over them and the air conditioning turned on.
Avoid outdoor exercise
Although in most cases, exercising outdoors is always great for our pets’ health, we should take care to avoid exercise when the sun is at its highest. Your pet may not be able to avoid the call of the great outdoors, but it is our job, as responsible pet parents, to only let them out when the hot day has cooled off or in the early hours of the day when the ground isn’t piping hot. You’ve surely heard it before, but it bears repeating: sidewalks can get too hot for your pet to walk on. If you’re not sure whether the sidewalk is too hot, just lay the back of your hand on the ground. If it’s too hot for you to bear, it will definitely be too hot for the unprotected paw pads of our pets.
How do pets cool off
Unlike humans that have sweat glands all over their skin, pets mainly use panting as cooling mechanism. Pets sweat, mainly through their paw pads. However, panting is a much more efficient way for their fur-covered bodies to evaporate moisture in order to cool down. This may lead to rapid dehydration so make sure water is always available and located out of direct sunlight. Also, fur acts as a natural insulator, so if you’re thinking about grooming as a way of helping your pet stay cool, ask your veterinarian for an expert opinion. Some breeds are better off if they keep their coats ON during the summer.
Hopefully, we’ve helped shed some light on the Dos and Don’ts of pet care in this heat. Stay fresh, stay healthy and enjoy the summer. It’s a time to enjoy the magic of being together and keeping it cool…