I feel like I vacuum daily, and no sooner am I finished than I turn around to find “tumblehair” collecting in the corners of my kitchen. Our retriever’s wispy curls seem to lurk in every available nook and cranny of our home. But even in my exasperation, I cannot be frustrated with my pooch. After all, her body is doing exactly what it needs to at this time of year. Preparing for the heat by shedding that outer layer of “fluff.”
Even though our pets instinctively shed to cool themselves down in the summer, we can still help them by being smart about exposing them to heat and helping them cool down if they get overheated. Here, we’ll share some tips for keeping your pet cool.
- Know Your Stuff: There are two main things to watch out for--hyperthermia and heat stroke. Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature that is above the generally accepted normal range. When an animal is trapped in a car or at the beach on a hot day, his body temperature can rise dangerously high and make it impossible for him to cool himself. Heat stroke occurs when an animal has trouble removing heat in his body through panting. He may find that in trying to cool himself, he generates more heat through exertion, and heat stroke occurs. When it is extremely hot outside, it is important to be aware of your pet’s panting and move him to a cooler place before he shows signs of being overheated. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are excessive panting or labored breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, and drooling.
- Plan accordingly. When it’s hot out, my dog can be found frog-legging it on the cool tile of our bathroom floors. We make sure to walk her early in the morning, or after the sun goes down. During these times, it is easier for our dog (and us!) to breathe and safer for our dog’s pads. If you have ever seen burned puppy dog pads you know you never want it to happen to your walking buddy!
- Take advantage of the shade. Keep your pets out of direct sunlight, use sunscreen (especially on short haired dogs), and during the hottest part of the day, stay inside as much as possible.
- Leave your pets at home. As tempting as it is to let your dog tag along each time you run an errand, in the summer months it may be best to leave him at home for a little R&R. Animals don’t cool off the same way we do--panting takes more exertion than sweating, and respiratory distress can happen faster than you think.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Make sure plenty of cool, clean water is available to your dog throughout the day, and always take some along when you leave home. Our favorite take-along water source is the Highwave AutoDogMug made especially for dogs. It’s spill-proof, fits in your car’s cup holder, and is super easy to fill and take along. You may also want to give Pupsicles a go!
- Be aware of your pet’s breed/condition. Certain breeds cannot pant as effectively and may be more susceptible to heat stroke than other breeds. Pets who are senior, overweight, and/or suffer from lung/heart disease also are at increased risk of heat exhaustion. Watch these pets carefully during the summer months, and always be aware of the signs of heat stroke.
- Brush/trim more often. The Furminator does a great job of removing loose hair so your dog/cat doesn’t have to deal with that excess coat in the summer. You may also want to consider having your dog’s hair cut shorter in the summer. My parent’s dog often got what was called a “puppy cut” in the summertime, to cool her down and remove some excess hair.
Summertime is a time of relaxation, catching some rays, and hanging with the ones you love. Do your four-legged companion a favor and respect the heat. Know how to protect your dog/cat from the elements so you can enjoy yourselves! Happy Summer!!!