It’s taken a while, but summer is finally in full swing! For many of you, that means adventure is just around the corner, but warm weather brings along risks and challenges... especially if you have flat-faced pals like I do. To help you have a safe, fun-filled summer with your best friend, I have compiled a list of my top tips.
Water water water!
Hydration is so important during the hot summer months, for both your pets and you! Bring a water bottle and collapsible bowl on your daily outings, making sure to stop for drinks often. Water can be a friend in many other ways, too; wet your pet down with cool water before and during time outdoors, treat them to a kiddie pool if you have a yard (this suggestion comes highly recommended by yours truly), and if you do dog sports, consider investing in a cooling coat or bandana.
During peak hours of the day (9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.), the asphalt and cement of sidewalks and roadways can become extremely hot. Paw pads are sensitive to heat and can actually burn after prolonged contact on a hot surface, so instead of hitting the pavement when taking your pets out for a walk, stick to grassy parks and boulevards where the temperature will be cooler.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion.
Symptoms can include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, glazed eyes, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, collapse, even seizures, diarrhea or vomiting. If your pet is displaying any of these symptoms you need to lower their core body temperature immediately. Move into the shade and apply cool water over their body; avoid cold water as it can send your pet into shock. Drape cool, damp towels to the head, back and chest and provide small amounts of water or ice cubes to lick. Most importantly, get to a veterinarian!
Leave parties to the humans.
Loud noises and crowds combined with the heat of summer can be very stressful and even dangerous for pets. The risk of ingesting alcohol or people foods (in particular raisins, onions, grapes, and chocolate) is heightened at parties where our eyes may not always be on our companions.
Never leave your pet in the car!
Surely this is common sense by now, but in case it’s not, I’ll repeat it again... don’t leave your pet in the car! A vehicle can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if parked in the shade with the windows down. This spike in temperature can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and in the most severe of cases, death. If you see a distressed pet in a car during the summer months, alert store management. If the owner doesn't return, call local animal control or the police department.
Watch for chemicals. Summer is a great time to work in the yard, but insecticides, plant food, and fertilizer can be fatal to animals if ingested. If you use them, keep them out of reach or look for a natural, non-toxic alternative. When out walking, steer away from yards that may have been sprayed with these products. If you suspect your pet has ingested a poisonous substance and you cannot get to a veterinarian (which is ideal), call the North American Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680.
And my number one, top tip for the summer?
If it’s too hot – don’t go out!
Remember, the only way animals can expel heat is through their paw pads and from panting, so we have to make a conscious effort to keep our nearest and dearest cool. Sure, physical exercise is important, but in hot weather, outdoor activities should be kept to a minimum, especially for flat-faced dogs, seniors and those with thick coats. As an alternative, work on mental stimulation! Play games indoors, try out a puzzle toy, hide-and-seek, pull out that dusty tug toy or heck, brush up on some basic obedience!
No matter what, have a blast this summer with your pets. Time spent together is never wasted.