Warm, sunny weather is certainly a joy for most of us! Summertime is often characterized by days by the water, adventures in the sunshine, and peaceful evenings outside with the whole family—pets included.
Of course, summer should also come with a few special considerations for pet owners. Cats and dogs don’t deal with the heat the same way we do, especially since they’re usually covered in fur and are unable to sweat to cool themselves down.
Being aware of the risks of warm weather on your pet is an essential part of providing them with the care they need. And with summers consistently getting warmer, it’s vital that pet owners are aware of a few do’s and don’ts for pet care during hot days.
When caring for your pet in the summer, DON’T:
Push your dog into long runs and intense exercise
As we all know, some dogs are enthusiastic to a fault and may run and exercise until they’re completely exhausted if left to their own devices. It’s a good idea to reduce the intensity of walks, runs, hikes, and other exercises for your dog during the hottest days of summer. If you do decide to go on more strenuous trips, choose routes with lots of shade and pack a portable bowl with plenty of water.
Leave your pet in a parked car
It should go without saying, and yet some people still believe it’s okay to leave a dog in a hot car. A car in direct sunlight can quickly reach extreme temperatures, and dogs (and other animals) are simply not equipped to deal with that kind of heat. This can happen within minutes, even on a cloudy day. Avoid heat sickness or worse and make sure your pet is never left alone in a hot car.
Shave your pet’s fur
This is another tip that should go without saying but is still unfortunately necessary. While a full coat of fur may seem uncomfortable during the summer months, your animal’s summer coat is actually already adapted to help manage the heat. Shaving your cat or dog down to the skin risks injury, sunburn, and general discomfort from your pet. However, grooming, trimming, and brushing are all good ways to make your pet more comfortable.
Take walks during the heat of the day
It’s best to switch your dog’s walking routine to walk in the early morning, later evening, or both in order to avoid the worst heat of a summer day. Not only can the intense sunlight quickly exhaust your dog, but hot pavement can actually become warm enough to injure your pet’s paws. Walking them at cooler times of day is the best way to ensure their safety.
Let pets near summertime hazards
Summer is often characterized by many fun things that are sadly not safe for curious pets. These include barbecues, human snack foods that aren’t safe for pets, and fireworks. If you have a pet, always exercise caution around summertime hazards in order to keep them as safe as possible.
When caring for your pet in the summer, DO:
Provide plenty of water, ice, and shade
Whether you have a dog, rabbit, or cat, providing lots of water and shade is a great way to help them keep cool. Bonus points if you have air conditioning or screened-off windows to leave open. It can also be a good idea to put ice cubes in your pet’s water bowl (provided they don’t mind), as this is a safe way to help your pet quickly reduce body temperature.
Use caution during swimming
Many dogs love swimming in lakes, rivers, seas, or even pools during summertime. Ensure your pet has a safe swim by carefully supervising them from within the water, as well as potentially investing in a life vest designed for dogs—especially if yours isn’t the strongest swimmer. For more detailed information about dogs and swimming feel free to refer to our previous blog post Can All Dogs Swim?
Use parasite prevention
Summer is the most active time of year for common pet parasites like fleas and ticks. Follow the guidance of your veterinarian for prescriptions and other recommendations to help protect your pet from these pests.
You can start here with our Great Tips For Summertime Dog Flea And Cat Flea Control for fleas, and also these Pet Care Tips to Keep Them Safe from Dangerous Tick Bites.
Have your pet groomed
While you should never shave your pet completely, some grooming can be a good way to help your pet keep cool in the summer. Regular fur brushing will help remove dead hairs from the undercoat, allowing the skin to ‘breathe’ better. Trimming a dog’s hair (ideally with the help of a groomer) can also be a good way to help them stay comfortable.
Educate yourself on signs of heatstroke
Last but not least, it’s important to know the symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion. If you notice these signs in your pet, be sure to get them shade and drinking water:
- Heavy panting
- Dry, bright red gums
- Thick drool
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Wobbly legs
If symptoms persist after cooling your pet down, you may need to contact your veterinarian for guidance.
As you can see, the fun of summertime also comes with a few extra challenges for pet owners. However, with the right knowledge and a good relationship with a trusted veterinarian, these summertime considerations for pets can fast become second nature.
Interested in more summertime pet care tips? Be sure to check out some of our previous blog posts such as:
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