The summer season is a time to relax and enjoy the outdoor weather with family and friends, including your four-legged ones. However, your fur coat-wearing friend can easily succumb to heatstroke and other heat-related hazards if playing outdoors when the temperature and humidity levels soar, so take special precautions to keep them safe during hot weather. Follow our Town & Country Animal Hospital team’s heat safety tips to help ensure your furry pal stays cool, comfortable, and out of harm’s way this summer.

Exercise safety for pets

No matter how high the temperature, your pet still needs daily exercise to maintain a healthy body condition and strong muscles. However, when participating in outdoor activities, your pet can rapidly overheat. To help keep your furry pal safe while exercising this summer, follow these tips:

  • Head out early in the morning — In general, early morning conditions are the most ideal for outdoor exercise, as they are the coolest and most comfortable. You should also check the day’s weather forecast to determine the best time for your pet’s outdoor play.
  • Cut play sessions short — When the temperature and humidity levels are high, your pet won’t be able to play as hard for as long as they do when conditions are cooler, so cut exercise sessions short.
  • Provide plenty of water — Ensuring your pet stays well-hydrated while playing outside is critical for preventing heatstroke. Always provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pet.
  • Playing indoors — When the outside weather is simply too hot, play fun indoor activities that encourage your pet to move. Brush up on obedience skills, design an agility course, or hide treats and urge your pet to seek them.

Water safety for pets

Splashing around in a pool or lake is a great way to keep your pet cool and comfortable during the summer, but they pose many dangers to pets. To ensure your pet stays safe around water, follow these tips:

  • Outfit them with a safety vest — An accident can happen when your back is turned, so prevent your pet from drowning by outfitting them with a safety vest. Whether your four-legged friend takes a running jump off the diving board or leaps over a boat’s edge, they will remain buoyant long enough for you to rescue them if they are wearing a safety vest.
  • Offer fresh, clean water — Although your pet is surrounded by water, swimming and splashing are thirsty work. Regularly offer your pet fresh, clean water to help prevent them from drinking water that is treated with chlorine or chemicals, or contains various pathogens.
  • Avoid the deep end — Not all pets can instinctively swim and will frantically doggy paddle if they fall in water that is over their heads. If a pool or pond is so deep that your pet can’t touch the bottom, don’t let them get in unless they are wearing a safety vest. If your pet is not wearing a safety vest and they begin to panic in the water, they can endanger your life if they try to climb on your head or shoulders for support.

Food safety for pets

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer day than a frozen treat. Rather than sharing your hot fudge sundae with your furry pal, offer them a pet-safe treat that is just as delicious. Ice cream, while a drool-worthy treat for people, can make your pet ill. Cats and dogs are unable to digest lactose well, and they experience vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps if they eat ice cream or other dairy products. Dairy treats’ excessive amounts of fat and sugar, often including nuts, chocolate, and other toppings, can also upset your pet’s stomach, or trigger a life-threatening pancreatitis episode.

So, skip the ice cream and offer your furry pal a pet-safe frozen treat. Your pet is sure to enjoy these:

  • Fruits — Fruit, whether fresh or frozen, is a wonderful treat for your pet. Do not give your pet grapes and raisins. However, you can offer your furry pal apples, bananas, melons, and berries to boost their water intake. You can also freeze small fruit pieces and toss them in your pet’s water dish for a fun game of bobbing for treats.
  • Frozen concoctions — Whip up your own recipe of your pet’s favorites, such as xylitol-free peanut butter and yogurt, or canned food and pumpkin. Place the mixture into silicone molds and freeze. Pop out the frozen treats and offer them to your pet throughout the day when they need a cool break.

Heatstroke safety for pets

Knowing how to identify early-stage heatstroke in your pet can save their life, so monitor them closely for overheating. Heatstroke signs include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Thick, ropy drool
  • Bright red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling when walking
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

As heatstroke progresses, multisystem organ failure and bleeding problems can develop, so take immediate action to cool your pet’s body temperature to 103.5 degrees. Bring your pet indoors, run cool—not cold—water over them, and direct a fan at their face. Once they’ve cooled down, stop your cooling measures to avoid making your pet too cold.

If your furry pal seems to be overheating, take immediate action to cool them down, then head to Town & Country Animal Hospital for further treatment. Give us a call to let us know you’re on your way, so we can prepare to jump into action.