Summertime means special care for our pets. Excessive high temperatures and humidity, parked cars, jogging, beaches, swimming pools and "the wind in your face" can be hazardous to your pet's health.
Leave your pets at home: Don't let that eager look as you pull out the keys cloud your judgment. Even if you park in the shade and there's a nice breeze blowing outside, the temperature inside a car can shoot up to dangerous levels within minutes (120 degrees or higher!) even with the windows down. Unlike humans, pets cannot perspire to cool themselves. The movement of air into and out of the lungs allows them to maintain their normal body temperature. Panting and salivation are outward signs that your pet is overheating. When humidity and temperature exceed the point at which these cooling mechanisms can maintain body temperature, heat stroke results – and that can mean permanent brain damage or even death to your pet. So don't take chances with your pet's life – leave him at home!!
Shelter: Dogs and cats need to have a cool place to stay when the summer temperatures soar, either inside or out. When it's really hot, the shade from a tree will not keep your pet cool enough. He needs a doghouse or other shelter to protect from the heat. Dogs and cats can get sunburned just like people. Their ears and noses, which are not protected by thick fur, are especially susceptible.
Water: Make sure your pet always has access to cool, clean water, especially in the summer heat. Refill overturned bowls and freshen water, but never give your pet ice water, which can shock the system and cause severe upsets.
Beach and Pool: If you take your pet to the beach, be sure to provide ample shade, as well, and hose him down after he has been in the salt water. Protect your pet's feet from the hot sand or pavement. Dogs' and cats' foot pads are very sensitive to heat and can easily blister.
While many pets love to swim, chlorinated water irritates your pet's eyes, and heat and sunlight around a pool are intense. Never leave your pet unattended around a pool. Once in, a dog cannot get out without help and may soon panic and drown.
Ticks and Fleas: Carefully go over your pet's body at least once a week to check for fleas, ear mites and tiny bumps or cuts. Bring your pet to the vet for a spring/summer checkup and use a good flea and tick repellent that your veterinarian recommends. This can come in the form of a dietary supplement or a powder or spray.
Hair is a natural insulator, whether it is warm or cool. In the summer, an animal's coat insulates against sun, heat and insect bites. Regular brushing removes dirt and loose undercoat, which cleans and cools your pet. When you brush, check around the ears, between toes, along the legs, at the lower abdomen and base of tail.
Travel: If you plan to take your pet on a long car trip, take him on several short trips to condition him for the journey. Travel can be very stressful for a pet: try to eliminate as much of the stress as possible. When taking your dog in the car, have your pet ride completely inside the car with you, just like any other member of the family. Pets allowed to ride with their heads out the window and those relegated to the back of a pickup truck are in danger of injury from debris embedding itself in their eyes, nostrils, ear canals and throat. Pets riding in the back of a pickup truck can overheat from the sun off reflected roadways or be injured during a rough ride, or actually be thrown out onto the road if you brake suddenly.
Exercise: Dogs are naturally designed for sprinting, not for uninterrupted running or jogging. During such exercise, the body temperature rises faster than excess heat can be dissipated. In the summer, exercise of any kind should be cut back and limited to the cooler, early morning or later evening hours. Be sure to walk your dog in the grass rather than on the hot pavement, as it will burn his padded feet.