There’s a lot to celebrate about the start of summer. It’s time to enjoy barbecues, beach trips, and above all else, warm weather (especially when you live in a city with harsh winters, like Chicago). But with warm weather comes some risks, too, particularly for our pets. Heat can create health problems for both dogs and cats. Potential risks include overheating, dehydration, and even sunburn. The good news is that it’s simple to keep your pets safe in hot weather, as long as you do some preparation first. Here’s our guide to keeping your pets cool and safe all summer long.
Prevention Is Key
If you want to keep your pets safe in hot weather, you should begin by taking preventative measures. Start the summer off on a safe foot by bringing your pet to the vet at the beginning of the season. A trip to your pet’s vet will help ensure that any underlying issues are addressed before the heat and humidity kick in. Extreme heat can exacerbate existing health conditions, so it’s best to identify and treat any issues before it’s too late.
Provide Plenty Of Water
One of the biggest risks that heat poses to pets is dehydration. Just like with us humans, prolonged exposure to heat will cause animals’ water and electrolyte levels to become depleted. Extreme dehydration can have a negative effect on organs, and if prolonged, can lead to serious consequences, even death. To prevent this from happening, be sure to always provide clean, fresh water for your pet at all times. If you aren’t home during the day and are worried about your pet running out of water, you can purchase a pet water dispenser, like this one.
Symptoms to look out for are panting, sunken eyes, lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite, and loose, wrinkled skin. If you suspect that your pet may be dehydrated, don’t wait until it’s too late. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
Give Them Shade
Shade is essential to keeping cool in the summer for both pets and humans. If your apartment is flooded with natural light throughout the day, be sure that you’re providing areas for your pet to rest out of the sun’s rays. Invest in some curtains that you can close during the hottest part of your day to help keep your pet cool during those grueling summer afternoons.
In addition to shade, consider purchasing an extra fan or two that your pet can lay next to when they need to cool off. Fans can be especially helpful when you bring your dog back inside after a walk on a hot day, which brings us to our next point…
Keep Your Walks Short
In extreme heat, it’s best to keep your walks short and sweet. While exercising your dog is still important, it can become dangerous if they overexert themselves in hot weather. Instead of one long walk or run, try breaking up the walks into shorter intervals. That way, your pup will still be getting enough exercise without prolonged exposure to the heat.
Keep Your Pet Groomed
Proper grooming is an essential component of pet care, and it becomes even more vital during the summer months. To help your cat or dog combat the heat, be sure to groom her regularly, which will help her shed her coat and keep cool during the summer. This is especially true for longhair cats or dogs, but even pets with short fur can benefit from a good brushing.
Consider Pet Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t just for us humans. Pets need it sometimes, too! Dogs can get sunburnt from prolonged sun exposure just like we can. For dogs, a sunburn can result in painful, inflamed skin, and even fur loss.
However, that doesn’t mean you should slather your favorite SPF onto your pooch. It’s essential that you find a sunscreen that doesn’t contain zinc oxide, as it can be harmful to dogs. Another common ingredient found in sunscreen, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), can also be harmful to pets. Check out this article for more information on pet sunscreen safety.
Bonus tip for keeping your cat cool: Try making these Cat-sicles!