Pets aren't fans of hot weather what with their fur coats and limited abilities to eliminate heat from their bodies. What that means for you as a pet owner is that you need to limit your pet's exposure to hot weather conditions, keep them hydrated and provide as much cool comfort as you can. Paying attention to your pet's comfort level can go a long way towards preventing your pet from the dangers of overheating. Here are some things you can do to help your pet get through the dog days of summer:
Leave Your Dog at Home
Don't take your dog to the store with you during the heat of the day. You might find you stay in the store longer than you anticipated. Meanwhile, your car gets hotter and hotter and your dog starts to suffer from overheating. Oregon has a "good Samaritan" law that allows a passerby to break the window of a car with a pet inside during hot weather. Don't risk a broken window, a fine and a sick dog -- just leave them at home for their own safety.
Clip but Don't Shave a Coat
Thick-coated pets have it the worst in the hot weather and getting their coats clipped is a mercy for them. However, make sure the groomer doesn't shave the coat down to just above the skin. Your cat or dog needs a little protection from the sun. Leaving a little of the coat in place protects their skin from sunburn and also gives them insulation during a cool night.
Keep the House Cool for Your Pets
Are you in the habit of turning up the temperature on the AC while you're gone for the day? Don't go too far up the dial as your pets need to stay cool, too. It's fine to turn up the temperature a couple of degrees to save on energy costs, but make sure the house doesn't get too warm. Your pets need to stay comfortable, too, and they rely on the AC just as much as you do.
Pay Attention for Signs of Distress
It's normal for a dog to pant in hot weather and for a cat to look lethargic as they sleep away the heat of the day. But if your dog or cat is exhibiting any of these following symptoms, they're overheating and you need to take action, including getting your pet to a veterinarian right away.
Signs of overheating include:
• Excessive panting
• Disorientation or confusion
• Rapid breathing and pulse
• Stumbling or staggering
• Bright red tongue
These signs tend to be more subtle in cats than dogs, but they're still a sure sign of heatstroke in either species. Both cats and dogs require immediate treatment in the form of wet towels soaked in cool water laid on the head and torso and offer warm water for the animal to drink. Don't force water on the animal as they may not be able to drink properly. Seek emergency veterinary care if the animal is not responding well to attempts to cool down their body.
Remember: if you're hot, so are your pets. Don't overlook their need to stay cool in hot weather and make the effort to give them a comfortable environment. Everyone stays happy and healthy when care is taken to avoid the worst of the summer heat.