By Dr. Sarah Wallace
Keep the Thermometer in Mind
Imagine heading out to a park or the beach on a 70, 80, 90+ degree day. You are in short sleeves, right? Now imagine you are out in the same heat wearing a winter coat and snow pants. Keep this in mind whenever your furry friend is out with you. If you are hot, they are going to be much hotter. Dogs don’t sweat like we do, so they do not have a good way to release body heat. See that tongue sticking out of their mouth? That’s the only form of air conditioning they have. So what does that mean?
Consider potty walks early in the morning and later in the evening to try to keep your pet out of the hot sun. Middle of the day walks (especially in southern states) should be kept short.
Put your hand down onto the concrete and see if the concrete is hot to the touch. If the pavement is hot to your hand, it sure as heck is gonna be hot for your dog’s paws!
Bring water and a water bowl with you; encourage water consumption frequently.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET IN THE CAR
If your cat likes faucets, try turning the cold water on (just a trickle) to encourage water consumption. If this method works, repeat frequently.
Another way you can encourage water consumption (and keep cats cool) is to give them a cold treat. Cats love flavor, so we recommend freezing chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray. You can put the cubes in their water dish or their food dish - the goal is just to get them to drink water or snack on something cool.
Cats likely won’t let you put an ice pack on them, but you can use one to chill the floor of an area they like to lay. Tile floors and bathtubs will do the best job holding the cold temperature.
SPF For Everyone
Dogs share some of the most common sunburn areas as humans: the top of the nose, the tops of the ears, and the face where fur is minimal. Since the sun can reach these areas easily, it is important to protect these areas on your pet. The easiest way to pick a sunscreen is to pick one developed specifically for pets, as some ingredients in human sunscreens can be toxic to our friends – especially those who like grooming. Be especially careful if you are applying sunscreen to your cat as cats can get sick from certain sunscreen ingredients. Some tips:
Human sunscreen that has an ingestion warning on it is NOT safe for pets
Sunscreen that has octyl salicylate in it is NOT safe for pets
Any baby sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide instead of zinc is NOT safe for pets
Make sure your pet doesn’t lick or consume zinc
Another option for dogs and one of the best options for cats are the clear, fast-drying spray sunscreens made for human babies.
Keep Vaccines Up To Date
Since outdoor doggie fun will often involve encounters with other fun-loving canines of unknown vaccination status, make sure your pet is protected. Vaccines are key to pet summer safety! This year, of particular concern are canine influenza and kennel cough. Another one to consider is for leptospirosis, a bacteria that can cause kidney disease, liver disease, or both and can make your dog gravely ill. If you bring your dog out into the wilderness, especially lakes, ponds, puddles, swamps or other non-moving bodies of water, these are the areas that your dog could potentially encounter (and consume) lepto bacteria. Please don’t skip these preventative steps – don’t let dehydration or illness ruin your (and your pups’) well-deserved summer fun. Questions? Contact our vet team directly!