A Totally Cool Summer With Your Pets
Article by Jeffrey A Weber
Spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner, bringing with it the fun of barbecues, softball and pool parties. To make all of theses activities more enjoyable many people include their pets. Here are a few tips to keep your best four-legged friend healthy and happy while having fun in the sun.
It seems amazing that this tip must be shared time and time again yet every year there are tragic stories of pets dying in hot cars. Under no circumstances should your pet be left in the car on a sunny day. Even if the temperature outside seems mild the sunshine can raise the temperature inside of your car to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in just a few minutes. At this temperature brain damage occurs in a matter of minutes, followed by death. On especially hot days even parking in the shade is of little benefit. If you must go out to run errands it is best to leave the fur babies at home.
When out in public locations such as parks keep your pet on a leash. This will help keep them from getting lost in a strange place, or becoming involved in altercations with other animals in the area. It will also ensure that their curiosity does not get the better of them and keep them from eating or drinking things that may be harmful to them.
Join the hydration nation. Water is of the utmost importance to both you and your pet. Arrange it so that your pet has access to plenty of clean fresh water. Check their bowls several times a day on those really warm summer days. If you and your best friend are out and about be sure to take along plenty of H2O for the both of you. Don’t allow your pet to drink from the gutter or puddles in the street. The water in these places may contain harmful substances such as oil, pesticides or antifreeze. There are many innovative travel bowls as well as pet water bottles that make it easy and convenient to provide water for your pet when you’re on the go.
Sunscreen for pets? You bet! Sure they have all of that fur to help protect them from the sun but our pets can suffer the same affects from the sun as we do such as sunburn. Sunscreen is just as important for your pet as it is for you, especially for those pets with lighter colored hair and red/pink noses. Try to avoid going out in the high sun but if you do be sure to use some sort of sunscreen. Your sunscreen will work or there are sunscreens created specifically for pets. Simply apply the sunscreen to unprotected areas like the tips of the ears, around the lips and, of course, on the nose.
Take extra precautions on humid days. Unlike people who sweat over their entire body as a cooling mechanism our pets only sweat around their paws and depend on panting to cool down. When your pet is panting air moves throughout the nasal passages picking up heat that is then exhaled through the mouth. This is an extremely efficient cooling method however it can be extremely limited in times of high humidity. Also, if your pet has long hair make sure they are well groomed. While their coat helps protect them, if it is full of mats and tangles it could possibly hold too much heat close to their body so a good brushing may be in order. Or if you prefer you could treat them to a spa day at the groomers.
Exercise is an important part of keeping your pet healthy and in actuality a pet at their proper weight can stay cool more easily. Overweight pets are more likely to become over heated because the extra layers of fat cause them to retain more heat in their bodies. However, even if your pet is at their proper weight take care that they do not over do it on those extra warm days. Also keep in mind that some pets are less tolerant of the heat than others. Older pets as well as puppies have a more difficult time regulating body temperature. Pets with ailments, whether temporary or chronic, are more susceptible to heat as well. Dogs with short snouts, such as pugs or bulldogs, are not able to pant as proficiently as those with full snouts limiting their ability to cool themselves, with these breeds of dogs it is wise to avoid the high heat of day whenever possible.
Most importantly, watch out for heatstroke. As with people, heatstroke in pets is a medical emergency. Even with immediate treatment heatstroke can be fatal. Without question prevention is the best medicine. Indications of heatstroke can be, panting, staring, anxious expression, will not obey commands, high fever, warm dry skin, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, and collapse. If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke prompt action should be taken. Make contact with a veterinarian immediately and it is imperative that the body temperature be lowered. Get them out of direct sun, soak a towel, t-shirt, or whatever is available in cool water and apply it to the hairless areas of their body such as their underbelly. Often the pet will respond to this treatment in a very short amount of time, however they may quickly relapse as their body temperature goes back up. Once your pet has suffered heatstroke veterinarian care is required. The treatment your veterinarian gives your pet may include, further action to lower the body temperature, intravenous fluids to hydrate and treat possible shock, and medications to help prevent brain damage.
While extreme temperatures can be hazardous to both you and your pet with some common sense and some simple precautions summer can be a time of great outdoor activities and fun for all.
About the Author
Jeffrey Weber has been a long time and avid pet lover. Over the years he has had the privilege to learn from pet professionals, as well as from his own experience. In an effort to strengthen the bond between people and their pets he shares his knowledge on his blog Family Pets. In addition Jeff and his wife offer quality pet supplies on their website at Your-Pets-R-Family-2.com