By Karen Thomas for Paradise Pets Magazine
We all enjoy the fun of summer activities - swimming, going to the beach, vacations and
holiday celebrations. But our very sensitive four-legged companions may feel a little
different. When the temperature rises we need to be extra vigilant of the well-being of
our babies in fur coats. Living in the Florida Keys the temperature and humidity soar
during the summer creating a very oppressive heat which can affect all of us.
Here are just a few safety tips for keeping our loved ones safe:
Every year hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion from being left in parked cars. It
is never a good idea to leave your pet in a parked car with the windows cracked, ever.
Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness
and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. And cracking the windows
makes no difference. The data below was shared by the American Veterinary Medical
Association on how quickly temperatures rise.
“The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 20
minutes, it can rise almost 30º F...and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60
minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the
outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that's 110 degrees inside your vehicle!”
Safe Travel for Pets
Let’s also not forget the severe dangers of driving with your dog in the bed of a pickup
truck. Not only are they exposed to airborne hazards and risk being burned on the hot
metal of the bed itself, but dogs could also fall or jump off the truck and be injured or
killed on impact. Using a tether in the truck bed is not a good idea either as the tether
could tangle, injure, or even choke your dog. If you must transport your dog in the bed
of a pickup truck, use a secured, appropriately sized and ventilated dog kennel.
The safest plan is to leave your pets at home when you can. They will be safe, grateful
and happily waiting for your return.
Exercise and Hydration
It’s very important to modify your pet’s excise during the summer months. Exercising for shorter periods in the cooler hours of the morning or evening are best once the
pavements and streets have cooled. Paw pads can burn easily on hot pavements,
decks, sand or asphalt. If you’re unsure of the temperature test it by taking your shoes
off and standing on the surface for a few minutes. Often our pets are so eager to
please us that they won’t complain when their paws are burning.
If your dog will be spending time outdoors, make sure they have access to plenty of
shade and fresh water. Wading pools (out of direct sunlight) and sprinkler hoses can
help with cooling and can be lots of fun for them too.
Remember too that older, short-muzzled, overweight dogs, dogs with chronic health
issues and puppies are more likely to overheat in hot weather. Animals with flat faces,
like Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since
they cannot pant as effectively. These pets should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms
as much as possible.
The same rules apply to beach outings -lots of shade and lots of water. I always take
plenty of extra water and a bucket in case it gets spilled or if there are other dogs in
need of it. Be mindful of the hot sand. If you can’t walk on it barefoot you can be
sure it’s uncomfortable for your pup.
Warning Signs of Overheating in Pets
If your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms you should take immediate
action and move him to a cool area, preferably with air conditioning. At a minimum
move him to a shady spot. Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness
veterinarian who writes for HealthyPets.Mercola.com. recommends taking his
temperature if possible.
“If it is 104 degrees or lower begin cooling your dog down by soaking his body with cool
water – cool, but not cold. Use a hose, wet towels or any other source of cool water that
is available. Concentrate the cooling water on his head, neck and in the areas
underneath the front and back legs. Carefully cool the tongue if possible, but don't let
water run into the throat as it could get into the lungs. Never put water in the mouth of a dog that can't swallow on his own. Put a fan on him if possible – it will speed up the
cooling process. After a few minutes, re-check his temperature. If it's at or below 104ºF,
stop the cooling process. Further cooling could lead to blood clotting or a too-low body
temperature. Get the dog to a veterinary clinic right away, even if he seems to be
Fireworks and Storms
Many people enjoy the booming sounds and flashing lights of fireworks, but they can be
terrifying and overwhelming for pets, and possibly hazardous. On the Fourth of July so many pets are frightened and try to escape the sights and sounds that animal shelters
around the nation report a dramatic increase in lost pets during the holiday.
Be mindful of the fact that our pets are very sensitive to loud noises, flashing lights and
strong smells. So on the Fourth of July (and the days around it when people are likely
to set off fireworks), it's best to leave your pets safely indoors, preferably with relaxing
music playing or TV turned on to hide jarring noises. I am a big fan of the
“Thundershirt” not only during thunderstorms but anytime there is loud noise or
vibration. The soft pressure on the animal’s torso exerted from the shirt has a calming
effect. I usually spray my calming blend “Serenity” on the shirt as well. I love to diffuse
calming essential oils (like lavender) regularly in our ‘healing room’ where there are
crates set up to help create a peaceful safe space in the house. So during times of loud
noises or vibrations there is a ‘safe place’ in the house for our dogs to retreat to.
The summer months can be fun and full of wonderful activities. Just always remember
to pay extra attention to the special needs of our loving animal companions. They
deserve to have an awesome and stress free summer too!
Sources: American Veterinarian Medical Association: 1931 North Meacham Road, Suite 100
Schaumburg, IL 60173-4360
Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, integrative wellness veterinarian. HealthyPets.Mercola.com.
About the author: Karen Thomas, R.N., is a Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) Practitioner in the Florida Keys. Karen can be contacted through her website www.pawsitivetouch.org or email her directly at karen [at] pawsitivetouch.org
Paradise Pets Magazine