Summer brings warmer weather and more time outside for humans and pets alike. Many of us take advantage of the rising temps to get more active and enjoy the outdoors. Of course, our pets want to join us in these activities too, but what precautions should we take to ensure they stay safe and healthy?
One of the main concerns with rising temperatures is keeping our best friends cool. Pets feel the heat just like we do, but they do it with a fur coat!
Acclimating your pet to the warm weather early in the season can help their bodies adjust, but some pets will never be able to handle hot weather well. If you plan on spending a lot more time outdoors with your pet in the summer, moderation is key. Start early in the year, and even if the weather seems perfect, only go as far as your pet is comfortable. Less is more when it is hot! Keep sessions short, watch for signs of heat-related stress, and ensure your pet has access to plenty of water. You can also use the indoors and shade to your advantage. For example, short periods of play outside can be alternated with time in an air-conditioned house to keep your dog or cat’s body temperature within a normal range. In addition, consider going out during the cooler morning hours or choosing locations with shade to stave off the heat. Before beginning a walk, check any pavement or asphalt surfaces as they can become searing hot and burn paw pads quickly. You may want to wait for a cooler time or stick to grass or dirt trails instead!
Pets – especially dogs – will push themselves past their limits when having fun on long walks or during other exciting activities. You’ll likely have to make the call when playtime is over to prevent heat-related illness, like heat stroke. Any pet is susceptible, but certain breeds (such as dogs with shortened faces like pugs or bulldogs) are even more at risk of overheating. Heat stroke is an extremely dangerous condition where the pet becomes too hot. A pet with heat stroke may become disoriented, pant rapidly, and may be unable to walk. Tremors, seizures, and a loss of consciousness are also possible. Pets experiencing heat stroke require immediate help from a veterinary professional, and heat stroke can be deadly even if treated properly. In addition, a pet who previously had heat stroke is more susceptible to it in the future. Always play it safe and stop activities before your pet is at risk of overheating.
Additionally, many pets love a good car ride, whether on a long summer road trip or tagging along when running errands. It’s important to be aware that temperatures inside a parked care can quickly reach life-threatening levels, even when the outside temperature is moderate, and the windows are open. Bring pets inside with you or let them hang out at home in the air conditioning instead of waiting in the car.
Finally, talk with your groomer about summer styling recommendations. They can evaluate your pet’s coat and suggest trimming, deshedding treatments, and other grooming procedures that will work well for your pet’s breed and the environment where you live.
Staying hydrated is vital as temperatures rise! Encourage your pet to drink water when it is warm outside by cleaning their water bowl frequently and refilling with cool, clean water. If you have a pet that slurps water so fast they make themselves sick, divide the water up and provide it early and often so they don’t try to embrace their inner camel after playing. Ice cube treats can also be a fun way to encourage your pet to consume water slowly. You should also carry water with you during long walks or hiking sessions and give it to your pet at regular intervals. Always bring more water than you expect you will need, and consider packing a bowl for your dog to drink from or using a water bottle designed just for pets. While playing in streams can be a great way to cool off, natural water sources can have pathogens. Discourage your dog from drinking from these sources, and let your vet know if your pet likes to indulge in this water during your next annual visit. You can both make a plan to monitor your dog for pathogens to keep them healthy!
As the weather warms and the days grow longer, pets will naturally spend more time outdoors. While staying current on heartworm and pest control is always important, diligence in the summer months is vital to your pet’s health. Pets are more likely to run into mosquitoes during the summer which carry the parasite that causes heartworm. If you miss a dose, give your vet a call to make a plan that will protect your pet moving forward. They will be happy to coach you through the best way to get back on track with heartworm prevention!
Now is also a great time to talk to your vet about beginning a flea and tick prevention regimen. There are several methods to consider for flea and tick prevention including oral medications, topical spot treatments, and flea and tick collars. Choose a method that works best for your pet’s lifestyle and use a species-appropriate treatment. Treating all pets in a household, even if they don’t appear to have fleas or ticks, will help you successfully combat these tricky pests. If a method isn’t working for your pet, resist the temptation to use multiple products as layering products can lead to toxicity. Read labels carefully prior to using any products and follow package instructions to ensure you get the best results.
Flea and tick shampoos and topical treatments designed for dogs can be deadly to cats. Only use cat-specific pest control measures for your kitties and keep any dogs that have been treated with flea and tick products away from cats for the time specified on the packaging.
Pets can also find themselves in close quarters with other insects or animals such as bees or wasps. Like humans, pets who are stung can experience swelling and discomfort. Chat with your veterinarian if your pet is stung or has a reaction to an insect bite so you can help your cat or dog get back to feeling normal again.
Keeping outdoor spaces safe for pets
Pets often join us outside when we care for our gardens or landscaped areas. While many of these areas are great for getting fresh air and exercise, common lawn and garden treatments, such as herbicides and fertilizers, are not safe for pets. Other insecticides, such as snail bait, are also very harmful to pets. Ensure your outside spaces are only treated with pet-safe products and avoid areas that might have been treated with a potential irritant for the time specified on the packaging.
Treats and temptations
Many popular summer delicacies don’t make the best treats for your pet. Ice cream and whipped cream are commonly found in puppy cups, but they can cause digestive upset. Fatty cuts of meat from the grill can also upset stomachs, and cooked bones can splinter when chewed on. Other foods, such as corn cobs, can cause intestinal blockages if eaten by your pet. As tempting as delicious human food can be, we encourage you to keep up the great work with your pet’s nutritional plan by continuing to feed their complete and balanced pet food diet! You can always fall back on their favorite treats, like biscuits and morsels, if you’d like to give your pet a special snack.
The heat can affect your pet in many of the same ways it affects us humans. You may notice your pet has a bit of a decreased appetite. This can be normal to a certain degree, such as a single missed meal, but always check with your vet if your pet becomes suddenly uninterested in mealtime. Your pet may also not feel up to their normal high-energy playtime when it’s hot and humid. Monitor your pet for other signs of heat stress if they become lethargic, and never hesitate to check in with your vet if your pet seems under the weather.
Pollen and other irritants run rampant in the warmer months. More sensitive pets may find themselves itchy or uncomfortable with the additional environmental elements. Bathing a sensitive pet to remove pollen and dander can help keep symptoms at bay. A gentle wipe down with a clean, slightly damp towel can also help remove pollen. Take extra care to clean sensitive areas like paws, faces, armpits, groins, ears, and wrinkles during these wipe downs. Your vet has many tricks up their sleeve to combat these irritations, so reach out early if you notice your pet is struggling during this time. Early intervention is best when finding the right treatment to make your pet more comfortable.
Still have questions?
Our pet nutrition team is here for you. Send us an email, give us a call, or connect with us through LiveChat. We’d love to talk through your pet’s unique nutritional needs!