As most of you are likely keenly aware, this summer is one of the longest and warmest on record for Puget Soundwith many records being broken for the past month. With that in mind, let’s review what you can do to keep your pet cool and safe this time of year.
First and most importantly, keep your pet out of extremely hot temperatures. This means keeping your pet out of hot vehicles. Even in 80 degrees Fahrenheit, your dog could over heat and suffer hyperthermia. Cracking the window will not save your pet from dying either—even at 72 degrees a car parked in the sun can reach temperatures of up to a 120 degrees. Short nosed breeds of dogs such as pugs and Boston terriers, and heat intolerant pets such as ferrets are especially susceptible to warm temperatures. These pets can suffer from hyperthermia at outdoor temperatures of 80 F and above.
Secondly, make sure all pets have plenty of water, whether they are indoors or outdoors. Bring plenty of water when exercising your dog. Watch for signs of hyperthermia, which include heavy breathing, thick saliva, bright red mucous membranes and vomiting. If you noticed these signs, call your vet right away. In cats and ferrets, watch for excessive panting as well as the other signs of overheating noted in dogs. In rabbits pay attention to reddening of the ears and lethargy.
Also, be mindful of sun exposure for pets that have little hair. For cats such as sphynxes or peterbalds, and dogs such as Chinese crested or Xoloitzcuintli you may have to apply a pet safe sunscreen when you take your pet outdoors. All pets should have access to shade whenever possible. Even white or light-colored animals are prone to developing skin cancer around pinker, less furry parts of the body, such as the ears or temples.
Let’s look at some ways to keep your pet cool!
- Of course, always have plenty of cool water with ice on hand.
- Don’t over-exert your pet. Exercise in the early morning when it is coolest or late at night if possible.
- Keep ice packs around, but cover them with cloth bags or towels before putting them under a pet’s blanket or cushion. One can also make a cool pack with chilled dry rice in a sock.
- Buy dog ice cream!
- If your cat goes outside, ensure he or she has shade at all times. It is best if you cat or dog stays indoors, however, especially if you have a fan or air conditioning.
- Make sure your pet cannot access un-insulated buildings and get locked in, such as sheds or greenhouses.
While the heat is tough to deal with, in time it will end. Until then, keep your pets calm and cool indoors or outdoors in a pool with supervision. It should also be noted that with the warmer weather, there is an increased risk of parasites such as fleas and ticks. In addition, the warmer weather is leading to warmer water—this means an increase in salmon washing up on river shores. It is important to keep your dog away from washed-up salmon as these fish can cause salmon poisoning. These fish can carry a parasite, Nanophyetus salmincola,, that in turn can carry the microorganism Neorickettsia helminthoeca. If you dog ingests wild fish and develops extreme diarrhea, take him or her to the veterinarian at once. Left untreated, it can be fatal. By making sure your pet avoids deadly parasites like these and staying cool, you help your pet enjoy the summer. Be calm, be cool!