Hot-Weather Tips for our Cat & Dog Companions

When summer arrives, it is very important that we take the proper precautions when dealing with our pets. Here are a few important tips and facts that should help protect our furry friends.

Heat stroke can kill an animal. Dogs and cats should NEVER be left alone in a car or truck, even briefly. Even with a window open, a vehicle can become a furnace much more quickly than you would ever expect. It doesn’t matter if you park in the shade, because the sun shifts during the day. With their extra-long soft palates, small nostrils, and narrower-than-usual windpipes, brachycephalic breeds (breeds with the short snouts and “pushed-in faces”) have an especially tough time in the summer heat. English bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston terriers are examples of these breeds.

Always travel with a thermos of cool water that you can offer your dog throughout the day.

Keep your dog’s exercise to a minimum, especially after eating, during the hottest hours of the day. Any exercise should be done in the early morning, when it’s coolest, or in the evening, after sundown.

Minimize the amount of time your dog spends standing on the street. Asphalt radiates a lot of heat, and dogs are closer to the ground than we realize. They can heat up pretty fast, and they can burn their paws on the hot asphalt.

Avoid taking your dog to the beach unless you can provide a shady spot, and have plenty of fresh water for him to drink.

Hi-rise syndrome increases dramatically during the summer months. Hi-rise syndrome is what we call it when cats and (less commonly) dogs fall out of a window. Do not open windows during hot weather unless the window is protected by a screen.

Long-haired dogs are especially prone to overheating. Shaving a long-haired dog so that the hair is 1-inch long helps prevent overheating. Shaving any shorter than 1-inch might predispose your dog to sunburn, so don’t go any shorter than 1 inch.

Antifreeze can be deadly to cats and dogs. Animals are attracted to antifreeze because it has a sweet taste. Unfortunately, the main ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, can cause severe, sometimes fatal kidney damage if ingested. Be careful when changing the coolant in your car, and try to prevent your pets from drinking antifreeze from puddles. There are several brands of antifreeze that are designed to be non-toxic to pets. They have propylene glycol, a safe chemical, instead of ethylene glycol. Consider switching to these safe alternatives.

If your dog spends much of it’s time outdoors, make certain that it has access to shady areas. A properly constructed doghouse is perfect for this. If you can’t provide proper shade, bring the dog inside during the hottest hours of the day.

Carefully check your pet’s body at least once a week in the summer, looking for fleas, ear mites, and ticks. Bring your pet to the veterinarian for a good spring/summer check-up, and use a good flea and tick repellent based on your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Follow the above recommendations, and hopefully your pet will experience a safe and problem-free summer.

First Aid for Your Cat: What to Do in an Emergency | First Aid for Your Kitten: What to Do in an Emergency