For many, summer is spent finding new and exciting ways to cool down — whether that be taking a dip in the pool, enjoying a refreshing ice cream cone or holstering a portable fan at all times.
While the options for beating summer heat are seemingly endless, this is not true for everyone in the family.
Oftentimes, pets are excluded from this effort and are instead put in a situation that is not only extremely uncomfortable but potentially life-threatening. And who would want their beloved pet to be put in harm's way?
This summer, brush up on all the ways your pets can cool down and safely partake in all the family memories this season.
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What risks do pets face during the summertime?
Just like humans, pets are susceptible to many heat-related illnesses and conditions, and this risk drastically increases during summer.
"The summer heat can be a lot for our pets and one of the things that we see most frequently is heat exhaustion or heat stroke, respiratory distress, excessive panting, hypersalivation, elevated heart rate and sometimes even collapse," Lakeside Animal Hospital Dr. Frione said.
While few pet owners mean to do harm to their pets, they often disregard the fact that routine practices have added risks due to this summer heat.
This is echoed by Sabal Chase Animal Clinic's Dr. Ian Kupkee, who says that pets left in cars, garages or porches are likely to suffer heatstroke in the summer months.
“Pets who are left in hot cars are the victims who usually make the most dramatic headlines, but the cases we see are usually the ones where pet owners are caught unaware,” Kupkee said. “Unless the garage is air-conditioned, this is not a safe place for a pet. The same goes for screened porches. They are simply too hot.”
How can I protect my pet from these potential risks?
According to The Human Society of the United States, there are many preventative measures to protect one's pet from heat associated danger.
Be aware of humidity:
Especially for Florida locals, it can be easy to disregard the presence of humidity, but this is one of the main causes of heat stroke in pets. In the article, the Human Society explains that humidity hinders animals' ability to self-regulate heat, making it a big risk factor.
Exercise caution when taking pets out on hot days:
On days when temperatures are expected to remain high, pet owners should plan on limiting outdoor exercise to mornings and evenings when it is cooler.
Provide shade and water for your pet:
For animals, especially dogs, walking on asphalt can cause injury as the pavement gets extremely hot. Owners should prepare to walk their animals on grass or in the shade, as well as bring water to provide at multiple times during walks.
Let your pet enjoy a summer treat:
Just as we humans enjoy a refreshing popsicle or chilled drink to cool off, pets can would love a "pupsicle" to alleviate discomfort on a hot day. Frozen treats are pretty easy to make for your pets using water and pet-friendly fruits.
Spend a day making memories by the pool:
For animals who enjoy taking a dip in the water, taking a pet swimming can be a great way to keep them cool whilst keeping them happy. For those who don't enjoy swimming, wrapping them in a cool towel or dousing them with a hose is another great way to play whilst staying protected.
Be prepared for emergency situations:
In the event that the power goes out for any reason, make sure to have a clear plan of action for how you plan to keep your pet cooled down without A/C.
What are the common symptoms of heat stroke in pets?
Panting excessively is a common symptom of heat exhaustion. Other symptoms include dizziness, weakness, seizures, lethargy or diarrhea.
If your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, their gums and tongue may also appear to be bright red.
If my pet is experiencing these symptoms, what should I do?
Should a pet show signs of heat stroke, it is advised that they be taken to a vet or emergency clinic as soon as possible.