After an entire winter spent stuck indoors, we all want to head outside to enjoy the sunshine and nice weather. Hot summer days promise lots of fun, but they also present certain risks for your cat or dog. Here are some tips to keep your pet cool during a heat wave.
The hazards of the weather
When it’s hot, an animal exposed to extreme heat—such as inside a car or on a beach with no shade—can suffer from hyperthermia. The heat in the environment becomes too high compared to the animal’s natural capacity to stay cool, mainly by panting. If a dog or a cat seems to have difficulty breathing, drools excessively or seems weak, the heat could be affecting them. If the situation persists, their life could be in danger.
Some species of dogs—such as pugs, Boston terriers and bulldogs—as well as Persian cats are more susceptible to hyperthermia. Their flat snout and short respiratory system have more difficulty evacuating heat, so your pet can become exhausted trying to stay cool.
Keep your pets hydrated
Just like humans who sweat, animals that pant need to stay hydrated. Make sure your pets always have access to a bowl of fresh water—both indoors and outdoors. An inflatable pool or an automatic sprinkler can provide a fun way for your dog to cool down. If your cat doesn’t like water, you can wet its paws with your hands to help regulate its temperature.
Turn up the AC!
If there is a big heat wave, make sure your pet stays indoors. Keep the environment cool and dark by closing the curtains and turning on the air conditioner. Let your cat or dog cool down by lying on cold tiles in the bathroom or basement.
Avoid walking in the blazing sun
Walk your furry friend early in the morning or in the evening, when the heat is less sweltering. If you have to walk on the sidewalk or asphalt, first check that the surface isn’t too hot by touching it with the palm of your hand. If it’s uncomfortable after less than 5 seconds, your pet may burn the pads of its paws!
Slather that snout
It’s easy to forget, but those cute little pink noses are just as likely to get sunburned as our own skin. You can get a sunscreen specially adapted for pets from your veterinarian or at the pet store. It only takes a moment to apply and will protect your dog or cat from the sun.
Animal fur: A natural air conditioner
Don’t make the mistake of shaving your pets to help them deal with the heat. In fact, hair and fur act as natural insulators and allow pets to maintain a stable body temperature in winter as well as summer, no matter the weather. Instead, brush your four-legged friends to untangle knots in their coat and remove excess hair.