Summer means vacations, beaches, and BBQs, but it can also mean sunburn, heat rash, and lyme disease. And not just for you! Pets can get sick in the summer, too, if they’re not properly protected from the hot weather.
To keep your pet cool all summer, here are eight ways to beat the heat.
1. Don’t leave your pet in the car
Not even if the AC is on or the windows are open slightly. The Humane Society says that on a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle rise quickly – twenty to forty degrees in thirty minutes – and that kind of heat can kill your pet. It’s dumb, cruel, and inhumane, so just don’t do it.
2. Provide constant access to water
Whether your pet is indoors with the AC blasting or outdoors enjoying a picnic in the park, always make sure he has plenty of water. Pets tend to overheat faster than us (just think of all that fur!) so make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water. Don’t rely on parks or rest stops to keep your pet hydrated — bring extra water bottles and a water bowl when you leave the house.
3. Limit outdoor exposure
Overexposure to sun and heat can dehydrate your pet, so leave her at home on a hot day or take frequent trips indoors to cool her down during a long day in the sun. When she’s outside, make sure she has plenty of shelter from the sun, says Julie Goff, development manager for Operation Kindness.
4. Avoid hot pavements
If you can, avoid walking her on hot surfaces – like cement or asphalt – so her feet don’t burn. But if those areas are unavoidable, consider getting booties.
5. Watch for signs of sickness
Especially if your pet has white fur or a pink nose, says Goff, because they sunburn more easily than other animals. (For the palest of pets, apply pet sunscreen!) Pets, too, can get sunburnt, dehydrated, and suffer from heat stroke the way humans can. Always keep an eye on your pet – both indoors and outdoors – on hot summer days and make sure she has constant access to shelter, water, and a safe, cool spot. Watch for excessive panting, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy — signs of dehydration.And if she’s itching or peeling, she may be sunburnt. If she starts exhibiting any odd behavior or symptoms, get her indoors immediately and contact your vet.
6. Exercise with caution
Because it’s always important to get your pet movin’ and shakin’ every day, you need to exercise him in the summer. However, you need to do it properly. Try walking him either right in the morning or late at night when it’s nice and cool outside. And switch up your workouts! Sure, fetch is always fun, but running vigorously in the heat can make your pet sick. Go for a swim instead, or run him through a sprinkler. And if you’re going on a long walk, run, or hike, consider buying a cooling vest for him.
7. Maintain vet visits
By staying updated with visits and shots, you’ll be able to keep your pet happy and healthy throughout the summer. And next time you’re there, talk to your vet about preventative medications like heartworm and flea and tick treatment. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are especially active during the summer, says Sandi Laird, animal care director at Operation Kindness, so make sure your pet is protected from contracting them and the illnesses they carry.
8. Take care of yourself
If you’re not protecting yourself, how can you protect your pet? Make sure you’re always properly hydrated and shaded so you, too, can be safe this summer. Your pet relies on you so you it’s important you don’t overexpose yourself to the heat (cough, by over-tanning, cough) and hinder your caretaking responsibilities.
Having a pet in the summer can be great, whether it’s enjoying a road trip together, relaxing by the pool, or snuggling indoors. But to get the most of your summer adventures, your pet has to be safe, cool, and protected. By following these tips and contacting the vet the second he exhibits any odd behavior or symptoms, you’ll be sure to beat the heat together this summer.
Image: Rhys Morris