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Hot Weather Tips


When the weather forecast calls for hot and humid days with temperatures in the 80’s, 90’s or higher, it means it will be uncomfortable not only for people, but also for their pets. Unlike people, whose perspiration keeps them cool, Pets have hardly any sweat glands at all. They do sweat between their toes, it’s not enough to carry away the heat. Instead, they pant. Panting helps dispel some heat, but it really isn’t very efficient. Here are some hot weather tips to help your pet beat the summer het.

Double the water – Even if your pet has a huge water bowl, changes are he will occasionally kick it over and perhaps go without water the rest of the day. Be sure to have an extra water bowl for your pet and keep it filled. If your dog likes to ‘swim’ in the bowl, consider buying a dog water faucet that screws onto your existing faucet or hose. This will allow your dog to drink fresh water from the faucet or hose and easily. A push or lick will release fresh water onto your dog’s tongue. Give your dog ice water. Many dogs love to bob for the ice cubes and end up drinking more fresh water to keep them cool. Always carry water for your dog when walking in hot weather.

Make sure they have shelter – Direct sunshine raises body temperature fast, which is why dogs and cats need cool places where they can go to escape the sun.  Make sure the space where they spend the hottest part of the day includes a porch, an umbrella or even a leafy tree; they’ll find ways to keep cool. If your dog stays in a doghouse, garage or other building during the day, wait until the hottest part of the day and check the temperature of his hideaway yourself. If it feels uncomfortable to you, it’s probably too hot for your pet. If this is the case, arrange for a more comfortable place for your pet to stay during the day.

Sunburn – Dogs and cats can get sunburn on areas of exposed skin, especially on their noses, ears and other pink spots.  Using sunscreen is possible, but impractical. Prevention of excessive sun exposure is easier. Dogs that are at particular risk are dogs who have recently been clipped, dogs with thinning hair because of a medical problem, light-colored short-haired dogs, black dogs (they absorb the sun’s rays) and older dogs who fall asleep in the sun.

Pad burns and blisters – Dogs walking on hot pavement or hot sand can blister their pads from the heat.  Pad blisters usually show up as painful feet on which, when closely examined, you’ll find a loose flap on the pad itself or a reddened, ulcerated area of the pad where the flap has already come off. There is not much you can do for the foot at this time other than to apply a light coating of antibiotic ointment and cover the foot with a sock or light bandage. Your vet may be able to cover the ulcerated area with wound glue, depending upon the size and location of the blister. Loose flaps have to come off by themselves or they can be trimmed. Before taking your dog for a walk, check the pavement with your hand. If it’s too hot for your hand, think of how it must feel on your dog’s feet. Wait until it cools off before taking that walk. 

When to exercise – Rather than taking your pet outside during the hottest times of the day, try scheduling your exercise routines or walks during the early morning or later evening hours, when temperatures are cooler.  Dogs that play all day during the cooler months may find themselves slowing down when it’s hot outside. Don’t push too hard, particularly when they start panting. Pets don’t always know their limits so we have to set the limits for them.

Cool cruising – When riding in the car, even when the windows are open, it’s often hotter inside the car than it is outside. Give your pet a window seat where he can catch the breeze or let him lie on the floor near an air conditioner vent. ON long trips, it’s also a good idea to take water and an extra bowl so he can have a drink when he needs one.

Beware of parked cars – Even on an 80 degree day, the temperature inside a car can get up to 130 degrees fairly quickly. You should never leave your pet inside a parked car.  If you must leave him in the car during a trip, always park in a cool, shady spot. Leave tow or more windows open to allow air to circulate, but not so wide that he can jump out. And don’t ever leave him there for more than a minute or two. On hot days, it’s better to leave your dog at home and take him for a nice stroll when you get back.

Forget the haircut – As the temperature rises, it might seem logical to take your pet to the groomer for a summer haircut.  Although a long coat may look hot, in many cases it helps insulate your pet and keeps him cooler. It’s okay to give him a trim, but don’t give your dog a buzz cut unless that’s his usual style.

Put in a pool – dogs often enjoy taking a cool dip on a hot day. Fill a small wading pool with an inch or two of cool water to give him a place to cool off. 

Heatstroke – Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body temperature exceeds 107 degrees for more than a few minutes. Dogs are easily overheated in hot weather because their only significant way of releasing excess body heat is through panting. Dogs at increased risk are thick-coated dogs, naturally anxious or “high-strung” dogs or short-nosed dogs. These dogs may overheat on a hot day even while resting in the shade.

You don’t have to take your pet’s temperature to recognize the warning signs of heatstroke. Visible symptoms include exhaustion, excessive panting and a lurching gait, followed by loss of consciousness and possible seizures/convulsions. Pets with heatstroke can suffer brain damage or worse, so don’t take changes if you suspect there’s a problem.  IF your dog starts to show signs of heatstroke, you need to cool him down as quickly as possible – don’t wait to get to the vet’s office.  Thos few minutes could make the difference between life and death. Hose the dog down with cool water. Apply cold compresses to the dog’s head and groin area, then wrap him in a cool, damp blanket while you wait for the assistance or on your way to the vet’s office.  You should encourage him to drink water, but don’t force him.  Pets with heatstroke may not swallow properly and forcing him to drink could make him drown.