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CHRONICLE HERALD: Keeping your pet cool, safe in the heat

Posted on: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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Summer’s finally here! We all enjoy fun in the sun with our four-legged family members. However, summer poses unique risks to your pet’s health. Leaving pets in parked cars isn’t the only tragic mistake people make that can harm or even kill their pet. Keep your pet cool and safe this summer by following these tips.

Avoid heatstroke. High temperatures can cause heatstroke. Young, old, overweight pets and those with respiratory or heart disease are most at risk. Signs include: heavy panting, excessive drooling, rapid heartbeat, lack of coordination, vomiting, seizure and unconsciousness. If you think your pet has heatstroke, take her to a vet immediately to avoid permanent organ damage and death.

Guard against dehydration. In addition to overheating, pets can get dehydrated quickly. Ensure your pet has access to fresh cool water indoors and outside. Put outside water bowls in the shade and add ice to the water — it will stay cooler longer and your pet won’t burn her tongue on an overheated bowl. When you’re out with your pet, take a container of water with you from which she can drink.

Protect against sunburn. Pets can burn in the sun just like people, causing painful inflammation and increased risk of skin cancer. Light-coloured and short-haired pets are most at risk. To prevent sunburn, apply a sunscreen made specifically for pets and cover the tips of your pet’s ears, nose and skin around her mouth. Pets may lick off sunscreen, so access to shade is critical. Keep your pet out of the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring her inside where it’s cool.

Watch out for hot surfaces. Hot pavement/asphalt can burn your pet’s sensitive footpads. Walk your dog in early morning or evening when outdoor surfaces are coolest. To test surfaces before letting your dog walk on them, press your hand onto them for 30 seconds. If it’s painful for you, it will be painful for your pet. On a 30 C. day, surface temperatures can reach 60 C causing burns and permanent damage after only one minute of contact!

Keep an eye on the humidity. It’s not just temperature that can affect your pet. If the humidity is high, pets are unable to cool themselves and their temperature will quickly soar to dangerous levels.

Cool off your pet in water. Dogs love to cool off in refreshing water. Fill a plastic kiddy pool and let her splash around or lie down in the water. If you have an in-ground pool, ensure your dog knows how to swim and can safely exit the pool via its steps. Since chlorine can irritate a dog’s skin, rinse her with fresh water after swimming in a pool. If you take your dog to a lake, protect her with a life vest and supervise her at all times.

Limit exercise on hot days. Avoid walking, running, exercising or playing with your pet during peak heat. Remember that just because she wants to come with you doesn’t mean she should, since some pets will walk or run well past the point it is safe to do so.

Make sure your house is cool. When outside temperatures reach dangerous levels, the inside of your house can too. When you’re out, leave the air conditioner on at a comfortable setting. Close curtains to decrease the heating effects of sun through the windows. Make sure your pet has access to cooler parts of the house.

Do your homework before shaving your pet. Many pet parents think it’s good to shave their pets in summer. Trimming longer hair is fine, but resist the temptation to shave off all her hair in an effort to keep her cool. Fur provides protection from overheating and sunburn, biting flies and mosquitoes. Do brush your pet often, since a tangle-free coat will keep her cool.

By taking precautions to ensure your pet is cool and safe in the heat, you’ll both enjoy a wonderful summer!