As summer temperatures soar, your pet’s heat safety becomes increasingly important. To help ensure your pet avoids heat-related injuries and illnesses, consider their needs. Read our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team’s five tips to learn how you can keep your pet safe and comfortable during the sweltering summer heat.

#1: Keep your pet hydrated

Adequate hydration is crucial to your pet’s health, and because of the increased heat and activity levels, pets have a higher dehydration risk during the summer. While panting helps a pet regulate their body temperature and cool down when they overheat, this breathing process also causes them to dehydrate more quickly, especially when they’re panting a lot. To help ensure your pet stays hydrated when temperatures soar, consider these tips:

  • Provide cool, fresh water — Your pet should always have access to cool, fresh water, indoors and outdoors. Add a few ice cubes to your pet’s water or use an insulated bowl to help keep their water cool. 
  • Encourage your pet to drink — Some pets may need a little extra encouragement to stay adequately hydrated. Your pet may drink more if they have several places from which to drink, so place multiple water bowls inside and outside your home to encourage water intake. In addition, you can also incorporate wet food into your pet’s diet. Many fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers and watermelon, have high water content and can help hydrate your pet. Some pets, especially cats, enjoy drinking from a water fountain.
  • Monitor your pet’s hydration levels — Watch your pet for dehydration signs, including lethargy, dry gums, and skin inelasticity. Contact your veterinarian if you’re concerned about your pet’s hydration status. 

#2: Ensure your pet has shade 

Whenever possible, keep your pet out of the blazing sun, and ensure they have adequate shade and ventilation to keep them cool and safe from heat-related illnesses and sunburn. To help your pet remain cool while outdoors, consider these shade sources:

  • Trees and shrubs —  If your yard has mature trees or large shrubs, they can provide your pet with excellent natural shade. Ensure your pet has access to these areas during the hottest part of the day.
  • Covered patio — A covered patio offers a shaded retreat for your pet. If the patio is screened, ensure the enclosure provides enough ventilation to help your pet cool off. 
  • Pet tents — Pop-up pet tents provide portable shade when you’re on the go. A pop-up tent can be useful when traveling with your pet, or if your yard doesn’t have a naturally shaded area.

#3: Keep your pet indoors during extreme heat

On days when the temperature is extremely high, keep your pet indoors with the air-conditioning running to ensure your home’s temperature remains comfortably cool. Avoid exercising your pet during peak temperature hours (i.e., between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.). When your pet is enjoying outdoor activities, ensure they take frequent breaks, drink water, and have access to shade. 

#4: Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle

As much as your pet may enjoy rides, leave them at home if you plan to run errands, even if you plan to do them in a short time. A parked vehicle can become a furnace in no time, even on milder days. A vehicle’s temperature can rise more than 20 degrees in only 10 minutes, quickly causing your pet to overheat. Rather than risking your pet’s life for a trip to the store, leave them at home where they can remain cool, comfortable, and safe.

#5: Be aware of heatstroke signs in pets

Heatstroke or heat exhaustion develops when your pet’s body temperature rises higher than the normal range of 100 to 102.5 degrees as a result of exposure to a hot environment or high humidity at a lower temperature. Any time your pet is outdoors, watch them for the following heat exhaustion signs: 

  • Excessive panting 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Bright red gums 
  • Lethargy 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate  
  • High fever 

If your pet exhibits any of these signs, immediately place them in the bathtub and run cool, not cold, water over them. Position a fan in front of them to help with evaporation. You should also immediately contact our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team.  

Through planning, you can help prevent your pet from experiencing heat-related problems. If you have questions about keeping your pet safe this summer, or if your four-legged friend is exhibiting heat exhaustion signs, contact our Heritage Veterinary Clinic team.