The hot and humid summer days keep coming, and our furry family members are feeling the heat! Although we want to keep our pets happy and healthy with daily exercise and exposure to the outdoors, it’s important to keep in mind the serious threats of heat and humidity.
Heat stress and heat stroke are two common conditions effecting pets during the summer months. We’ve put together some helpful information on how to help your pets stay safe and healthy this summer.
Certain breeds and factors put some pets at higher risks in heat conditions. Breeds with short noses and flat faces, also known as brachycepalic dog breeds, do not handle heat very well. Breeds in this category include (but are not limited to) Bulldogs, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and other small toy breeds. Dogs depend on panting to help them cool down, and the facial structures in these breeds creates airway issues that make it more difficult for them to take in enough air to cool their bodies.
Our extra furry breeds are also more susceptible to develop heat-related conditions. Breeds such as Akiktas have extra fur to help withstand the cold conditions. But it makes it more difficult for them to keep cool. It's important to make sure that their heat exposure is limited, even when they want to stay outside.
Parents with older pets and overweight pets should be extra cautious in the summer heat, their bodies will respond more quickly to heat conditions. Dogs with light pigmentation, such as Dalmatians, and groomed dogs with exposed skin are at a higher risk to sunburns. But all dogs are vulnerable to the sun’s rays, especially in sensitive areas such as ears and noses. Sunburns are linked to skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in dogs. Keep in mind when you are grooming your pet in the summer, your pet’s hair is a natural insulator to protect their skin from the sun.
Regardless of your pet’s breed, parents should always monitor all sun and heat exposure.
- Limit any exposure to heat and provide shade so your pet isn’t directly in the sun.
- Try to walk your pet in the early morning to avoid the heated sidewalks from meeting their paws. The sidewalks are still cooling down in the evenings, the trapped heat on the sidewalks might still be too hot.
- Limit any outdoor play and exercise to prevent over exertion.
- Keep the water flowing, make sure even when they aren’t outside that they get enough water.
- Use harnesses instead of collar leashes, collar leashes can make it more difficult for your pet to take in enough air to cool their bodies.
- Excessive panting
- Inflamed ears and gums
- Glazed eyes
- Uncoordinated movement
If you see that your dog is experiencing any of the signs of heat stress or heat stoke, make sure to immediately bring them into cooler temperatures and provide water. It’s important to consult your veterinarian as heat strokes are life threatening conditions, not to mention they can be expensive to treat. Having an active pet insurance policy may be able to help protect your dog or cat this summer.