Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. For many of us, that includes our four-legged buddies. The Georgia heat can sometimes put a damper on our fun, though, and it can become dangerous for our pets if we are not careful.
Pets can suffer from heatstroke, and some fun in the sun can turn into a true emergency without proper precautions. Heatstroke prevention in pets is key to making sure that summer stays cool.
Summer Safety for Pets
Prevention is the name of the game, and summer safety for pets is an important goal. Some of our tips for heatstroke prevention include:
- Steering clear of trouble — Leaving animals in hot cars is always a recipe for disaster. Never leave your pet in a vehicle, even for a minute. Temperatures can rise very quickly and even with a window cracked, in the shade, or on a cooler day, disaster can ensue.
- Mind the humidity — Our pets are not blessed with the same ability to sweat as we are. Panting is their main method of cooling (and brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs and pugs are challenged in this regard). When the humidity is high, it is best to stay inside.
- Mind the sun — If you are outdoors, carry plenty of fresh, cool water for you and your pet. Pet dehydration is no fun. Be sure to stay in the grass when possible. Hot asphalt, concrete, or even dirt and sand can burn paws.
- Time is everything — Take note of when the heat and sun are most intense and plan around it. An early morning walk or an evening game of catch are safer than going out at noon.
- Don’t shave it close — It may seem counterintuitive, but that big fluffy double coat actually insulates your dog against the heat. Shaving your pet for the summer can actually make your pet get hotter faster, and more prone to sunburn.
- Choose chill activities — Summer activities like playing in a small wading pool, turning on the sprinklers, or taking a dip in the lake can be a great way to stay cool. Never leave a pet unattended in the water, and rinse them thoroughly after swimming to prevent irritation from chlorine or dirty water. You might even treat them to a frozen treat afterwards!
Heatstroke in Pets
Even with the best of intentions, pets can become overheated easily in the right conditions. Signs that a pet is overheating can include:
- Excessive panting
- Heavy breathing
- Red or tacky gums
- Decreased urine production
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Increased internal body temperature (any rectal temperature over 102 degrees is concerning)
What to Do if a Pet is in Trouble
If you think your pet might be showing signs of heatstroke, bring them into a cool space right away. You can also offer them some fresh, cool water.
It is important not to bring their body temperature down too rapidly, which can lead to shock. Lukewarm towels on the paws and underbelly, and/or a fan on low can be helpful. If your pet will allow you, take a temperature. This can be helpful information for the veterinarian.
After you assess the situation, contact us. In more severe situations, veterinary attention may be necessary. We will guide you through this decision.
With a little attention, you and your pet can have a safe and fun summer. Just be mindful of the heat so it doesn’t sneak up on you!