After the long, cold winter, and cool, damp spring, many of us are rejoicing that summer is finally here! Beautiful gardens, outdoor sports, enjoying an ice cream treat after dinner, summer vacations up to the cottage or hanging out in the backyard or a park – it’s a season that appeals to us for many different reasons. But summer can be very challenging for our pets and negatively affect their health.
Below are some key tips to help keep your pets cool and safe this summer.
Take it easy on pets that can’t deal with the heat: Elderly, very young, and ill animals have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so make sure they stay cool and out of the sun on steamy summer days. Dogs with snub noses, such as Pekingese, pugs, and bulldogs, have a hard time staying cool because they can’t pant efficiently, so they also need to stay out of the heat. Overweight dogs are also more prone to overheating, because their extra layers of fat act as insulation, which traps heat in their bodies and restricts their breathing capabilities. Be mindful of your pet’s needs during extreme temperatures and take the necessary precautions to keep them cool and comfortable during the summer heat and sun.
Water, water, water everywhere: Indoors or outside, your pets need access to lots of cool, fresh water all throughout the day during the summer months. Check your pet’s water bowl several times each day to make sure that it’s always full. Use an automatic Waterer when you’re not home. Fill up the portable water bottles with cold water (and pack them in an ice cooler) and take them with you when you head outside. Whether you’re at the park, the beach, the cottage or hanging out in the backyard, we can’t stress enough just how important it is to ensure that your pets always have access to clean, fresh, cool water during the summer!
Bring them inside: Your pets shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised on long, hot days, even in the shade. Dogs and cats can become ill quickly if they overheat, so keep them inside as much as possible on really hot and sunny days. If your pet wants to head outside, please keep a close eye on her or him, and do not leave them outside for more than an hour, especially if they have access to little or no shade.
Mind the humidity: Humidity interferes with our pets` ability to help get rid of the excess body heat and they do not sweat like we do. While cats seem to withstand the heat and humidity more than dogs can, if it becomes too hot for them, either in the house or outside, both may be in danger. During extremely hot and humid days, keep them inside, and try to keep your home as cool as possible. In extreme heat and humidity, or during a lengthy power outage, you may want to seek a cooling centre in your neighbourhood where you can spend some time in an environment where you and your pets can cool down.
Avoid products with chemicals: Commonly used flea and tick products, mouse and rat baits, and lawn and garden products, such as mulch and insecticides, can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous substance. Wipe your pets’ paws and underbelly before you bring them back inside.
Grooming: Keeping your pet well-groomed will help their hair do what it was designed to do: protect them from the sun and insulate them from the heat. If your pet has extremely thick hair or a lot of mats and tangles, the fur may trap too much heat, so you may want to take them to a Groomer. It’s not recommended that you shave dogs entirely as the fur helps to prevent the sun from burning their skin.
Pets need protection from the sun: Even though your pet’s fur helps to protect their skin from the sun, your pet can get sunburned, particularly if she has light skin and hair. Dogs and cats can suffer in the same way from sunburns as humans do, and they can also be at risk for skin cancer. Keep your pet out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, and when you do go outside with your pet, rub a bit of sunblock unprotected areas like the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips, and the tip of the nose. Avoid direct sunlight when you can.
Keep your pet leashed: When you’re outside enjoying the warm weather, keep your dog leashed. It will keep your dog from getting lost, fighting other animals, and eating and drinking things that could make them sick. This tip isn’t just for dogs – even cats can learn to walk on a leash if you train them.
Make sure your pets don’t over-exert themselves: While exercise is an important part of keeping your dog or cat at a healthy weight, it also helps the body stay cool. Too much exercise can cause your pets to overheat. Exercise early in the morning or after the sun goes down when it’s cooler for you both. Keep the walks to a gentle pace and make sure that your dog has plenty of water to drink. If your dog is panting a lot or seems exhausted, it’s time to stop exercising and let them cool down.
Too hot to touch: Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog’s paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect their feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds – if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don’t want your hand on the street for more than thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for ten or more minutes of walking.
Party animals: Are you planning on attending a backyard barbecue or party and plan on taking your pet(s)? Please keep in mind that there are some foods that are dangerous for pets, which may result in digestive issues, severe illness and even death. Macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, products with the sweetener xylitol, and alcohol are just some of the items that can cause havoc with your pet’s digestive system and may be life-threatening for them. If you have to take them, take a crate for them to stay in, or ensure that they’re on a leash and within your eyesight at all times.
Exposure to Fireworks: Please leave pets at home when you head out to summer celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals. Further, many pets cannot manage the noise of fireworks and the stress that they can cause your pet can last for quite some time.
Never leave your pet in the car (ever!): Now that the warm weather is here, never, ever leave your pet in the car – ever. The air in a parked car doesn’t circulate and the temperature can rise within minutes to a point where it can become life threatening. Even if the windows are cracked open and you park in the shade, cars heat up like ovens and can be unbearable and result in death. Please leave your pets at home if you can’t take them to places where they can accompany you.
Revel in the summer because it doesn’t last forever. Just be mindful that the weather (heat and sun) can have severe health implications for your pets. Global Pet Foods carries the best products that you’ll need to keep your pets happy and healthy during the season. We look forward to seeing you and your pets in one of our stores across Canada! To find a Global Pet Foods store near you, view our Store Locator via our website at http://www.globalpetfoods.com/store-locations.
Cheers to a great summer!