ROTA, Spain – Everyone loves spending time outdoors during the summer months with their four-legged friends, but it is important to prevent them from overheating which can become a real danger to them.
Pets are generally safe in temperatures of up to 19°C (68°F).
“We suggest walking your dog in the early mornings or late at night when the temperature isn’t as high yet,” said Capt. Jaime Hanley, veterinarian and officer in charge at the ROTA Veterinary Treatment Facility.
However, it is best to always remember the 3-second hand rule on asphalt.
“Prior to walking your pet, simply place the back of your hand on the ground and hold it there for 3-seconds,” said Hanley. “If the heat is intolerable, find another place to walk, outfit your pet with a pair of booties, or reschedule your walk for another time when the ground isn’t so hot.”
Pets can get dehydrated quickly. It is important to give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot or humid outdoors.
It is best to ensure your pet has protection from the heat and sun by providing a constant supply of fresh, cool water along with shade. This can be accomplished by adding ice cubes to the water dish and using trees, tarps or screens for shade.
In addition, Public Health Command Europe veterinarians recommend avoiding over-exercising your pet in the heat. Always bring water so your pet is hydrated!
You can tell a pet is overheating by looking for the following signs: excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, and/or stupor. Symptoms can also include seizures, vomiting, and/or elevated body temperature.
“You can try cooling your pet by placing water-soaked towels on the animal's head, neck and chest,” said Hanley. “But owners should take their pets to the nearest veterinary treatment facility immediately, even if they are able to decrease the animal's body temperature, to prevent any consequential damage.”
According to Hanley the top three common mistakes she encounters as a veterinarian are:
- Leaving pet in a car with or without windows slightly opened. It does not matter – pets should never be left alone in an automobile.
- Shave Fur: Never shave your dog or cat unless medically necessary. It is safe to trim longer hair on your dog or cat. However, keep in mind the layers of dogs’ coats naturally protect them from overheating and sunburn. If you are a cat owner, keep in mind brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Brushing helps remove the dead hair that is no longer helpful and will allow the coat to regenerate in order to help regulate their temperature.
- Brachiocephalic Breeds, geriatric pets, and overweight pets: Animals with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly and the overweight should be kept cool rooms as much as possible.
Summer is also the time of family gatherings, barbecues and potlucks. Make sure you store food and alcoholic beverages out of reach from your pet.
“Providing your pet with a human snack as a treat, even once, may be enough to give your pet unintended digestive issues or result in death,” explained Hanley. “Especially avoid sharing food items that contain macadamia nuts, chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, and any item that contains the sweetener xylitol.”
Lastly, commonly used lawn applications, rodenticides, and insecticides can be harmful, so keep them away from pets.
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