Friday, June 10, 2011

Dog (and cat) Days of Summer!

What a relief to know we have so many ways to beat the heat in already scorching temperatures. We can head to the pool with the family or take in some complimentary air conditioning at the local movie theater or mall. Unfortunately, our four-legged friends have fewer options than we do, so we have to do the work to make sure our pets are prepared as much as we are.

Pets large and small can get dehydrated quickly and heat stroke can be fatal if not attended to right away. Pets need to always have plenty of fresh, clean water available and a shady place to be able to get out of the sun. It’s always best to keep pets indoors in extreme heat and be sure they do not get over exercised.

Remember that while Fido may be a part of the family and you want to take him with you on every trip to the lake or summer cookout, ask yourself if it’s really be the best choice for him. When temperatures are high, it’s not good for dogs to be on asphalt for extended periods. It can cause your dog’s body to heat up more quickly and can burn sensitive paw pads. Really, would you want to walk across a parking lot barefoot in the hot Texas sun? Neither does Fido.

Also remember that it is never safe to leave an animal in a vehicle for any period of time. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes and cracking the windows does not help. Animal’s bodies overheat so quickly that if left in a car – even for a quick run into the store – it could be a potentially fatal situation for them. If that isn’t enough, keep in mind that leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

If a pet becomes overheated, they need immediate attention as heat stroke can set in and become fatal very quickly. Symptoms of overheating include:
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Mild weakness
  • Stupor or even collapse
As the situation becomes more serious, symptoms may also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature over 104 degrees. Pay especially close attention to animals that are flat-faced. They are unable to pant as effectively to cool down and are more prone to heat stoke. Other animals that are at higher risk such as elderly, overweight, or pets with heart or lung diseases should be kept in air conditioned rooms as much as possible.

And one final tip to get your party animal stylin’ for summer: A lightweight summer haircut for dogs can help prevent overheating. A one inch length is usually a good standard to go by as you never want to take it down to the skin. A shorter length like this will keep them cooler while still leaving them with some protection from the sun. For cats, a few extra brushing sessions will help prevent problems for them that can be caused by extreme heat.

Learn more Hot Weather Tips for your pet from the ASPCA. While you’re there, check out their section on Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet to be sure the whole family is ready for anything!

Be Red Cross Ready with our Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist!

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