People unaccustomed to our weather can feel pretty droopy by the end of the day. It’s true, we have wilting humidity and occasional heat waves that make summers in Maryland challenging for some – pets included. If you’re looking for just one more reason to kick it in the AC, we’ve got some startling facts that place summer pet safety firmly in the spotlight.

Play it Safe

Instead of exposing your pet to the heat, play it safe and avoid the midday temps. Place the back of your hand against the sidewalk outside. If you pull it away within 5 seconds, the ground is too hot for your pet. Wait for it to cool off after dinner, or wake up early for a slightly cooler morning walk.

The Dangers of Heatstroke

A spike in body temperature can negatively impact the health of internal organs and impair breathing. Heatstroke is characterized by excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, weakness, stupor, and collapse. Left alone, bloody diarrhea and vomit, seizures, and even death can occur.

Summer Pet Safety

Cats and dogs regulate body temperature through panting, although they also sweat through their paws. Neither method is an equal match for the sun, especially if they have a thick, dark coat, carry extra weight, or have a short-nose (e.g., pugs, Persians, Boston terriers). Likewise, senior pets, puppies or kittens, and those with heart and/or lung diseases are at higher risk.

Keeping a close eye on your pet throughout the summer is the best tactic to prevent heatstroke or heat exhaustion. If you know or suspect your pet has a temperature of 104 degrees or higher, seek emergency services.

Combating Danger

A pet suffering from heatstroke needs to have his or her temperature brought down slowly.

  • Place your pet in a cool, dim area.
  • Apply lukewarm (not frozen) compresses to the body.
  • Increase cross ventilation.
  • Encourage your pet to drink cool, fresh water at regular intervals.
  • A rectal temperature should gradually decrease, but you don’t want it to come down too fast.

Please contact us for help with any of these steps.

Life Threatening

Refrigerated IV fluids can improve internal cooling and help restore blood flow to the vital organs. Oxygen therapy can be applied if there is significant respiratory distress. Getting your   sick pet the help he or she needs as quickly as possible will increase the odds of a positive outcome.

No Go

Summer pet safety stipulates that no pet should ever remain alone in a parked vehicle. Trapped air inside the car (even with cracked windows) can reach triple digits in a very short amount of time.

Extra Credit

Other tips that support summer pet safety include:

  • When exercising, take frequent breaks with your pet in the shade.
  • Set limits for your pet.
  • Set up a small wading pool or sprinkler in the backyard.
  • Offer delicious frozen pet treats.
  • Make a big ice brick and place it outside for your pet to lick or lay against.
  • Ensure there is ample shade and fresh water every day.

Swimming is a wonderful way to cool your pet down, but it also comes with its own set of guidelines and precautions. Please contact us for more information regarding summer pet safety. Happy summer!