Unlike people, whose perspiration keeps them cool, pets have hardly any sweat glands at all. They do have sweat glands between their toes, but it's not enough to carry heat away. What they do is pant. Panting helps dispel some heat but it really isn't very efficient, which is why hot weather, for both cats and dogs, is uncomfortable weather. Here are some tips to help your pets stay healthier and happier in the warm summer months.
Even if your pet has a waterbowl the size of a birdbath, chances are he will occasionally kick it over-and then be completely without water. To prevent your pet from going thirsty, provide two bowls of fresh water and always keep them filled. You can also provide a "drip system" attachment to the faucet in addition to the water bowls. By training your dog to lick the end of the drip system, you'll always be assured that they'll have enough water. Pets enjoy the stimulation of licking ice and through that action quenching their thirst and keeping cool. You may want to add ice cubes directly to their water bowls, or freeze a bowl of water for daily use. This technique also works well when taking trips with pets. A wading pool filled with an inch or two of water will give pets a pleasant place to cool off. Dogs often enjoy a cool dip on a warm day. Dogs often dig holes in yards for the insulating coolness they provide and many times, having a wading pool will keep them from digging holes in your yard to cool off in.
Even when you have the windows open, it's often hotter inside the car than it is outside. The best advice is to let your pet lie near the air conditioner vent. You may also want to keep your pet comfortable by giving him a window seat where he can catch a breeze. Make sure the windows are closed far enough to prevent daredevil escapes. Park carefully, remembering that temperatures inside a parked car get oven-hot within just a few minutes. You should never leave your pet inside a parked car. If you must leave him in a car always park the car in a cool, shady spot. Leave two or more windows open to allow air to circulate (but not so wide that he can jump out.) And don't ever leave him very long.
Dogs and cats that play all day during the cool months may find themselves slowing down when it's hot outside. Don't push them too hard during the summer. Be particularly aware of dogs with dark coats as they get hotter faster. Pets don't know their own limits, and can overheat quickly. We have to know when to put the brakes on them. Most dogs and cats will naturally eat less during the summer months, so don't be alarmed if your pets appetite falls off a little bit. Pets don't expend as much energy keeping their bodies warm, so they need less food. When the temperatures rise take your pet to the groomer for a summer haircut. While a long coat may look hot, in many cases the coat helps insulate the pet and keeps him cooler. It's okay to give them a slight trim. Just don't give him a buzz cut unless that's his normal style.
Is it too hot to take my dog along today?
Common sense tells most people that leaving their pet inside a parked vehicle on a hot, summer day could be dangerous after an extended period of time. But most people don't realize that the temperature can skyrocket after just a few minutes. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does little to alleviate this pressure cooker.
On a warm, sunny day windows collect light, trapping heat inside the vehicle, and pushing the temperature inside to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree Fahrenheit day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within ten minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. At 110 degrees, pets are in danger of heatstroke. On hot and humid days, the temperature in a car parked in direct sunlight can rise more than 30 degrees per minute, and quickly become lethal.
Pets, more so than humans, are susceptible to overheating. While people can roll down windows, turn on the air conditioner or exit the vehicle when they become too hot, pets cannot. And pets are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people are.
Dogs, for example, are designed to conserve heat. Their sweat glands, which exist on their nose and the pads of their feet, are inadequate for cooling during hot days. Panting and drinking water helps cool them, but if they only have overheated air to breathe, dogs can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes. Short-nosed breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, young pets, seniors or pets with weight, respiratory, cardiovascular or other health problems are especially susceptible to heat-related stress.
In case of an emergency, it's important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. Check the animal for signs of heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness.
If the animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, take steps to gradually lower her body temperature immediately. Follow these tips, and it could save her life:
- Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or immerse her in cool (not cold) water.
- Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
- Take her directly to a veterinarian.
For more information, visit MyDogIsCool.
It's the Law
The HEART Ordinance 9-2-2-1 reads:
Required care and maintenance for mammals and birds kept on residential property.
(A) Food and Water.
(1) Food. Mammals and birds shall be provided with uncontaminated, edible, nutritious food, which is of adequate quantity as to maintain the normal weight and condition of a healthy Animal. Additionally the amount of food administered must properly conform to the individual Animal's age and condition.
(2) Water. Mammals and birds shall be provided with constant access to a supply of Potable Water in sufficient amount as to maintain good health as required by the species whether Animals are outdoors or indoors except as directed
by a Veterinarian.