I try to stay away from topics that have been written about over and over. Especially if there are those out there who sing a good song. Summer heat tips are so very important, for any species, that I felt compelled to add my own voice to the mix. I live in Texas, so when it gets hot here, it’s serious business. I’m hoping that even if you don’t live in a scorching desert of pain during the Summer months that you’ll still get something out of this. Since there are so many good tips out there, I am going to keep it brief and informative.
One of the most important pieces of information I can give you about the Summer heat are signs of heat stroke. Your pet cannot tell you when they have had enough. Most of them don’t really know themselves.
- rapid, heavy panting
- warm, dry skin (this includes the gums which can start out moist from saliva and progress to dry)
- high fever (a normal temperature ranges from 101.5-102.5 in dogs and cats, a simple digital thermometer can be inserted rectally to obtain a body temperature)
- rapid heartbeat
- difficulty breathing
- bright red mucous membranes (tongue/gums)
- can see diarrhea, sometimes bloody
- staring (acting unresponsive, won’t obey commands)
Like most things, my first recommendation if you think your pet is suffering from heat stroke is to get them to a veterinarian ASAP. Attempting to cool them down in the wrong way can result in hypothermia as the body temperature decreases from feverish to normal and then below normal. Call your veterinarian for cooling advice while you are getting ready to take the pet in. They will be able to give you the best tips based on the symptoms you are seeing.
Now that we’ve gone through the uncomfortable part, here are some things that I’ve learned and seen to help prevent the above.
– Any brachycephalic animal (Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzu, Bull Dog) and even some cat breeds like Persians have smooshed in noses (yes this makes them super-cute) which results in a less than efficient breathing system. When their breathing system is compromised, so is their cooling system.
– These guys need extra-special care taken during warm temperatures, exercise should only be before the sun has come up or well into the evening. I always cringe when I see a poor Bull Dog trudging along any time during the day, looking like he’s just going to fall over.
– Humidity matters! I know this doesn’t seem like a big thing, but 90 degrees with 0% humidity is different than 90 with 75% humidity. When it is humid outside, it is likewise more difficult for pets to cool themselves.
– DO NOT LEAVE PETS IN CARS – I’m not going to explain this. There’s no exception and no excuse.
– Shade is going to be your biggest ally in this battle with the sun. You can provide all the water you want, but if there is no shade to take away some of the sting of the heat, you’re going backwards.
– I don’t like pets being outdoors, so my description of heat safety for outdoor pets is going to be limited. Adequate, plentiful and clean water, and shade (with ventilation) from the sun.
– Know your pet. If your bouncing Jack Russell has become a limp noodle, it’s probably time to take a break. Dogs don’t understand what it means to become overheated. For a lot of dogs, as long as someone is throwing a ball (or Frisbee, or having playtime), they are going to go and get it, despite how hot and tired they might be. I really can’t stress this enough. A lot of people are waiting for their pet to tell them when they are tired or have had enough.
Here’s a neat image to give you some at-a-glance things to remember about Summer heat tips. Our friends at theuncommondog.com showed this to us.
Summertime can be a lot of fun. No nasty freezing weather to keep you cooped up indoors. Most of the safety tips out there are common sense. Others take you paying attention to your pet and their warning signs.
Have fun and be safe!