Hot Weather and Keeping Your Pets Cool
Summer will be here before you know it. And even with Covid still lingering, we’ll be tempted to go outside and enjoy the hot weather. Austin summers usually last from June through September, with most days peaking into the 90s, with some reaching highs of 100+ degrees. Add excessive humidity to the mix and you’ll certainly have a fine batch of unpleasant days waiting for you.
While us humans tend to complain but manage to deal with such hot temperatures, our pets may have a harder time during the summer. As pet owners, we need to make sure that our pets are safe and healthy during these extreme temperatures.
Our pets can’t handle the heat like us humans, and your cats and dogs are more likely to overheat if you don’t take precautions to keep them cool, when it’s brutally hot outside. Regardless of how well you look after your pets, they can still be susceptible to heat related injuries, parasitic and infectious illnesses, and a variety of injuries throughout the summer.
Dogs are able to keep themselves cool by panting; this allows them to shift warm temperatures for cooler outside air. Cats also pant, but not as often as dogs do; they mainly will do it to bring in cooler air if they feel warm. However, heavy panting could be the sign of a serious condition, such as heatstroke, so if you see this, please call your vet as soon as possible. However, panting isn’t as effective if the outside air (especially if it’s very humid) isn’t cooler than their overall body temperature, and this can lead to serious conditions, such as heatstroke.
Pet Breeds and Pets with Health Issues
There are certain types of dogs, mainly Brachycephalic breeds, that can experience extreme breathing problems, especially if it’s extremely hot and humid. The following dog breeds fall into this category: French Bulldog, Boxer, Pug, Boston Terrier, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, Cavalier King Charles Special. For cats, Persian, Himalayan, Burmese, and most exotic shorthairs are considered brachycephalic breeds.
This is largely due to to the short shape of their heads, muzzles and throat, as they are bred to have such distinctly short muzzles and noses (looking more like a smushed face), which in turn causes their throats to be less than normal size. Pets who are older, overweight or have issues such as heart and lung disease are also at greater risk for heat stroke.
The Hazards of Leaving Your Pets in a Parked Car
This, without question, is something you should never do. Unless you’re driving, or taking your pets to your Austin vet and the AC is on full blast, it’s best to keep them at home, when it’s hot outside.
A parked car, with the air conditioning turned off can quickly turn into an oven. If your dog or cat is locked inside when it’s very hot out, temps can reach up to 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, causing heat stroke, brain damage, or suffocation. It’s a tragic situation that happens far too frequently, so please leave your pets at home unless it’s an emergency.
And if you should come across a pet in a locked car on a hot day, you can call a local animal control agency, or the police to help remedy the situation.
Other Ways to Beat the Heat
- Don’t over exercise your dog, especially in the middle of the day, when the heat is at its peak. If you have to walk your dog, go out in the early morning, or at night, when it tends to be a bit cooler.
- Water, water, everywhere. Keep your pets hydrated as much as possible. Have plenty of cool and fresh water available. Deep water bowls, with an ice cube or two can help if it’s warm out, which also works inside as well. A pet fountain is also a worthy investment if you have indoor cats; the filter keeps the water clean and the water stays cool, but be sure to clean it often as it can get dirty.
- Stay out of the Sun. Any kind of shade you can find, or create, will do wonders in keeping your pets cool. Be creative with tarps, a pop up canopy tent, or even the shade from a big old tree will help in keeping your pets from getting too hot.
- Stay off the street. When the heat is at its peak, the pavement can cause major pain and damage to your pet’s feet. If you wouldn’t walk on it with your bare feet, then neither should your dog or cat. Grass is a better alternative if you go to a park. However, if you are walking and you come across asphalt, make an effort to move quickly, or carry your pet if it’s easy to do so.
- Also, and this is important, never put your pets in the bed of a pickup truck. Even if you think they’re secured in the truck bed, any sudden movement, such as an unexpected stop could be disastrous, causing your pet to fall out of the back. Also, if they’re secured by a leash, they can also get over excited and face potential strangulation.
Some Grooming Ideas
To buzz or not to buzz? That is the question! Instead, you should brush, with great frequency. If your dog has a shaggy long coat, it can actually be beneficial to them in the summer months, as long as you brush it on a constant basis. Many dogs have a double coat, or an undercoat, meaning their outer coat is often coarse hair with an undercoat of softer hair. The outer coat can hep your dog manage their body temperature, and work as a form of insulation. The undercoat, if not managed can actually buildup and grow in thicker, causing your pet’s body heat to get trapped underneath. This is why it’s important to brush your pets throughout the summer; it helps removed the buildup of the undercoat and helps keep your pets cooler in hotter temps.
You can also trim your cat or dog’s hair if it gets too long, but you should never buzz them completely, unless it’s recommended by your Austin vet or a groomer. Buzzing your pet’s hair can damage their coat, and may impact the way it grows back. It can also affect their breathing and make them feel hotter than before.
Parasites and Viruses
During the summer, there is a greater chance for your pets to attract parasites and waterborne viruses. Much of this is the result of seasonal changes, increased humidity and simply being outdoors. These environmental changes can wreak havoc on your pets if you don’t take necessary precautions.
- Use year-round preventatives. Parasites are incredibly invasive. If you’ve been outside, they can find a way onto your clothes, shoes, socks and eventually your pets. Once inside your home, they can find places to hide without being detected for several months, and eventually find their way to your pets. You can find year-round preventives in many pet stores, or can consult with your Austin vet if you’re unsure which one to use.
- If you have indoor pets, you should also beware of these invasive creatures. Even if your cat or dog never goes outside, there are chances that they can get heart worms or even fleas, so make sure that they’re protected as well.
- Various parasites thrive in pools of water, so if you’re out for a walk with your pet, keep them away from lakes, streams and even small puddles. Always bring a small dish and fresh water with you if they’re thirsty.
- Your pet’s stool is also another way for parasites to make their rounds. Keep your little guys from eating stools, and always pick up after them when out for a walk. If you have cats, clean out their litter boxes daily and change the litter frequently to prevent further spreading.
Other Things to Consider
Swimming is fun and it’s great exercise for dogs. Your dogs may take some time getting used to water, s if they do want to hit the water, then be sure to supervise them at all times.
If you’re in the vicinity of a swimming pool, don’t let them drink the water. Swimming pools are filled with chlorine and all other kinds of chemicals that can cause your pets harm.
Should your pet go in the water, be sure to wash them off with clean water to remove any algae, dirt and other debris that may cling to them while wet. You should also keep their ears dry after swimming, as infections are possible based on possible contaminants in the water.
If you go sailing, please make sure that your dog is wearing a life vest or some sort of flotation device…you don’t want them to fall overboard and drown.
During the summer, there’s a great tendency to do yard work and keep up the grounds of your house. While we may use certain types of fertilizers and weed killers to have a nice yard, many of these rodenticides, fertilizers and insecticides are poisonous not just to us humans, but to our pets as well. They are extremely dangerous if ingested by your pets.
Other things to keep out of their reach are candles, tiki torches and insect repellents. If you decide to have a garden and your dog lies to run around, be sure to have pet safe plants, as dogs and cats often like to chew on them. If you think that your pet may have ingested a poisonous plant or gotten into a lawn product, call your poison control or your Austin vet immediately.
As the Fourth of July will be here sooner than you expect, there are a few things to consider involving your pets and fireworks.
Fireworks tend to scare most pets. The loud, banging noises can be terrifying and disorienting to them, so if you decide to go to a fireworks display, leave your pets at home. You may also want to leave some music on and put them in an isolated room while you’re gone, to help drown out the noise from the fireworks.
If you decide to use fireworks at home, please use extreme caution, but also keep your pets away from them. Your pets can get burned any many fireworks contain hazardous materials, so always play if safe.
The summer should be fun, but you always need to take precautions with your pets, regardless of the heat, humidity, potential water issues and fireworks. If you need addition guidance or advice, please contact us and we’ll be more than helpful to keep your little guys safe during the summer months.