Throughout the hot summer months, pets become susceptible to many illnesses, including heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn, if left outside. Even healthy pets can suffer from these ailments, making the need for all pets to escape from the heat even greater.
What pets need during hot weather is fresh, clean water, access to shade when they have to be outside and a place indoors to cool off.
Pets become dehydrated quickly and overheat, which can lead to heat stroke. The signs of a pet overheating include difficulty breathing or heavy panting, an increased respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, stupor or even collapse. If a pet displays these signs, contact a veterinarian immediately.
In addition, pets need regular check-ups during summer. Test pets for heart-worms if they haven't been administered year-around preventative medications.
Heat stroke and dehydration can be fatal for a pet if it is not treated quickly. Pets at the highest risk of heat stroke are animals with flat faces, such as pugs and Persian cats, because they cannot pant effectively. These animals and those that are obese, elderly or have heart or lung disease should be kept in the air conditioning as much as possible.
To help household pets cool off during the summer months, brush cats regularly to remove excess hair, which can insulate the body. Also, shave dogs' hair to one inch in length, but no shorter, because their skin could burn. Sunscreen exposed skin on pets, but make sure any sunscreen or bug repellant used is animal safe.
Never keep pets on asphalt for long, even if the animal is walking or moving around, because their bodies are so close to the ground that their body temperature raises quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn. Likewise, never leave a pet in a parked car because, not only is it illegal in 14 states, but even with the windows open a car can turn into a virtual oven in a very short period of time.
Throughout this summer's activities, never leave a pet unattended around water, because not all pets know how to swim. Instead, introduce the animal to water progressively. Always put flotation devices on pets when they are in a boat and remember to rinse chlorine and other harmful chemicals out of their fur after swimming.
Dr. Steven Hansen, ASPCA's Senior Vice President of Animal Health Services, stated, "Keep alcoholic beverages served at barbecues out of pets' reach, because they can lead to intoxication, depression and coma."
In addition to not giving pets alcoholic beverages, do not feed them foods like grapes, onions, chocolate and anything with the sweetener "xylitol."
For more information on pet safety throughout summer, visit www.aspca.org/pet-care.