Keeping Your Pet Hydrated and Healthy
Prolonged Exposure to Heat can be Dangerous to your Pet
Pet owners need to take special care in the summer heat to ensure the health of their dogs. According to the ASPCA, prolonged exposure to heat causes sunburns, heat strokes, and dehydration in dogs. These conditions are uncomfortable in humans; in dogs, they can be fatal. Pet owners need to take steps to make sure their pets stay cool and hydrated during the hot summer months.
Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration: Know the Signs
Dr. Laura Miller of the ASPCA stresses the importance of knowing the signs of heat exhaustion. Watch for excessive panting, difficulty breathing, drooling and weakness. Overexposure to heat can also cause collapsing, increased body temperature and in severe cases, seizures and vomiting. If a dog shows these signs, cool him down with water and seek veterinary treatment.
One of the best and easiest ways to keep a dog hydrated is to provide plenty of fresh cool drinking water. Make sure you leave several bowls of water in easily accessible locations at all times. Cold water is preferable: it will hydrate dogs while it cools them down.
Unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands that cool off their bodies. Dogs kept outside for prolonged periods need shaded areas to stay cool. If no natural shade is available, provide a doghouse or covered area where dogs can rest. Sprinklers and small pools also cool dogs quickly. Place plastic pools in shady areas to prevent the water from getting too hot. Change the water frequently to prevent the spread of mosquito larvae.
Keep Coats Trimmed
Longer coats on dogs can cause them to overheat. Bring the dog to a groomer and have him trim their coat. Leave at least one inch of fur to avoid overexposure to the sun. A dog’s skin is sensitive and burns easily. A short coat will protect him from UV rays and will prevent sunburn. Even with a trim, dogs need brushing daily to remove extra hair. Brushing removes the thick undercoat that can hold in heat.
Limit vigorous exercise on hot days. Exercise increases the chances of heat stroke and dehydration. When walking dogs, watch for hot pavement. Hot pavement can cause a burn to the paw pads of a dog’s feet. Exercise should be limited to the morning and evening when temperatures are the coolest.
Cars heat up quickly when parked in the sun. The major cause of heatstroke in dogs is leaving a dog in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked on a 70° F (22° C) to 80° F (26° C) day, while it may feel comfortable outside, the inside of your car can heat up to over 100° F (38° C) in minutes! As you can imagine, with that fur coat on, your dog’s body temperature rises very quickly. Dogs left in parked cars for even a short time can have a fatal heat stroke. Parking in the shade will help a little, but on hot days, even parking in the shade is not enough. It is best to leave your pet home.