Tips on how to keep our four-legged friends safe in the summer heat.
Horses, Dogs, cats and other pets need to become acclimated to the heat as the temperatures start to rise. Dogs and cats can’t sweat, so they have to release the heat in their bodies through respiration, breathing and through their tongue and paws. Horses can sweat and they seem to acclimate easier to hot weather.
The best way to prevent heat exhaustion is to acclimate your pet to the heat slowly. When the temperatures start to rise get your pet to slow down and give them frequent breaks from the heat if you are on a walk or getting them used to the higher temperatures. Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water and watch for signs of overheating. Start out with short walks or play in the yard with them for a few minutes and then bring them inside to cool down. Over a period of a couple weeks your dog will be more used to the heat and will be able to stay out longer or go on longer walks.
How to stay cool . . .
Try and walk your pets in the early morning or late evenings when the sidewalks have cooled down and the temperatures are lower. Dogs and cats can burn the pads on their paws on hot pavement and sidewalks. If you can’t walk barefoot on the street on a super hot day, don’t expect your dog to walk or run on it either. The temperature of the pavement is always much hotter than the temperature outside. On a 90F day the pavements or street may be as hot as 120F +. You can buy booties for your pets to protect their paws from getting scorched. Most pet stores carry the dog booties. They will protect your dogs paws from the hot pavement. The booties are great for snow and cold areas too.
Always take water for your dog when you go on walks. Offer your dog frequent drinks of water on walks and outings. It is not advised to run with your dog on a hot day. They just can’t keep up with us and their bodies cannot cool down like ours. Your dog will get heat exhaustion much quicker than a human, so make sure you take care of your pets.
One way to cool them down is to use cool water from a garden hose on their legs and bellies. Do not use ice cold water or water that is really cold as it may shock them. I’ve seen dogs lay in shallow creeks or streams to cool off or in mud or wet sand. A wet towel laid across your dogs shoulders and back or a cool wash cloth on their head will also help cool them down. I’ve heard there are cooling vests you can buy for dogs. I’ve never tried one on my dog, but it may be a good idea for some situations.
If you are on the trail or away from a water source, find some shade and let the dog rest for a good period of time. This will help your dog’s core temperature cool down. Give them some water (assuming you packed water for your dog) and let them lie down and rest. In the shade they should be able to recover if they are not already too overheated.
Don’t leave your dog in the car …
Never leave your dog or cat in the car in the summer months. Cars, even with the windows down or cracked, can reach 150 F + in the desert during the summer months. Pets can die in minutes if left in a car. It is not worth the risk.
What to watch for …
If your dog starts panting heavily or its tongue is really hanging out of its mouth, those are the first signs of overheating. A dogs normal body temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees. If the dog’s body temperature rises over 105, your dog is on its way to overheating or developing heat exhaustion. At this time your dog should be immediately taken out of the heat or away from the heat source and cooled down. When your dogs body temperature reaches 107 your dog is overheated and can get heat stoke, organs can start to fail and your dog can die. Seek medical attention for your dog immediately, if you think your dog has heat exhaustion.
A dog that is over heated or that has heat stroke will show these signs:
– panting heavily
– increased salvation early on
– dry gums as heat exhaustion sets in
– red tongue, eyes and gums
– tongue will hang out of mouth, extended
– dog will seem sluggish or disoriented
– vomiting sometimes occurs
Dogs at home . . .
If your pet cannot stay indoors with you, make sure there is adequate shade in the yard with ventilation. A covered porch, ventilated dog house or run with a roof on it or other shaded area is necessary. Make sure you have plenty of clean water in the shade in weighted bowls or buckets that are tied down so they do not spill or get knocked over. If your dog likes water, have a blow up pool in the shade filled with water. Or if you have a pool, make sure your dog knows how to get out of it or where the steps are. Lap pools don’t typically have stairs and dogs can get stuck in the pool and drown.
Enjoy your summer . . .
I hope these tips help you and your four-legged friends enjoy the summer without any incidents of heat stroke or exhaustion. Always monitor your pet and keep them safe from the scorching summer heat. Remember to carry plenty of water and monitor your dog when you are on walks or playing outdoors.