Vet Blog

Hot Dog! How to Help Your Pet Enjoy the Summer Safely

June 20, 2022

Texas summers are HOT!

The sizzling sunshine and muggy humidity can be too miserable for your pet to poke a whisker outside before turning tail and heading back to their favorite spot on the air-conditioning vent. If your fur coat-wearing pal is not a fan of the Willis, Texas, summers, read our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center professionals' tips to learn how to help them safely enjoy the heat and keep cool all summer.

#1: Cool Your Pet Inside and Out

Nothing is more refreshing than sipping a frozen drink while in the swimming pool. However, you should provide your four-legged friend pet-safe ways to cool off internally and externally.

Offer your dog cool refreshments such as "pup-sicles," made by freezing canned food, yogurt, spray cheese, peanut butter, or other favorites inside a Kong. Dogs also enjoy frozen fruit bites. Your cat may prefer a tuna-flavored ice cube.

A wading pool with a few inches of water allows your pooch to safely splash around-no dog paddling required. Pets who become uncomfortably warm may also benefit from a cooling mat or vest, which typically uses water or gel to wick away heat from their body, providing cooling relief.

#2: Protect Your Pet From Sunburn

Pets who have hair loss or thin, white, or light-colored coats have a high sunburn risk. Keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible, especially cats who enjoy napping on sunny windowsills. Excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure increases your pet's risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and other skin cancers.

#3: Keep Your Pet Away From Scorching Hot Pavements

If you cannot place the back of your hand or your bare feet on the pavement for 10 seconds, the surface is too hot for your pet's feet. Although your pet's paw pads seem tough, they are sensitive to extreme temperatures, and can quickly burn on a blistering-hot pavement. During summer's blazing heat, choose a fully shaded walking route or a path that winds through a grassy area.

#4: Provide Your Pet Plenty of Fresh Water

During the sizzling summer months, your pet's water intake will skyrocket, so ensure they always have fresh water access. To encourage your pet's water intake, empty their water dish several times a day and refill it with fresh, clean water. To make your life easier, drinking fountains that provide filtered water offer your pet continuous fresh water. Also, a fountain's running water particularly intrigues cats, enticing them to drink more.

#5: Ensure Your Pet Has Adequate Ventilation and Shade When Outdoors

When outdoors in the high temperature and humidity levels, you and your pet can keep cool by hanging out in a well-ventilated area with plenty of shade. Remember, a shaded area with no ventilation will leave your pet miserable, so plan to relax under a shady tree to catch a cool breeze, or on a covered porch with a fan oscillating toward your pet to ensure they remain comfortable.

#6: Know Your Pet's Limitations

Extremely high temperatures affect some pets more than others. When outdoors, take extra precautions if your pet has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Overweight or obese
  • Very young or very old
  • Dark or black fur
  • Thick, double coat
  • Flat face
  • Endocrine disease
  • Cardiac issues
  • Respiratory disorders

In addition, if your pet is highly active and reluctant to relax without a long recreation session, plan water play or indoor activities to prevent their overheating. If your pet refuses to stop coercing you to play fetch, you may have to insist they go indoors.

#7: Learn Pets' Heatstroke Signs and Prevent Overheating

Heatstroke can quickly turn deadly if your pet is not immediately treated. Watch your pet for the following heatstroke warning signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Staggering
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

If your pet displays the initial heatstroke warning signs, bring them indoors and place them in a cool-not cold-bath, with a fan in front. Ice-cold water can cause the extremities' blood vessels to constrict, shunting overheated blood to the body's core and causing a further temperature increase. In addition, do not wrap your pet in wet towels, as this traps the heat and prevents evaporation. Another way to lower your pet's temperature is to run cool water over them, keeping their head above water, and closely monitoring their temperature. Once your pet's temperature drops to 103 degrees, stop the cooling measures to prevent inadvertent overcooling. Once your pet has cooled off, schedule a veterinary examination so we can assess whether they have experienced a heat-related injury.

Heatstroke that progresses rapidly or remains untreated can be fatal. Keep your furry pal safe by following our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center's heat safety tips. Don't hesitate to give us a call if your pet becomes overheated this summer.