Summer. Sun. Hot. Heatwaves. Don’t forget that summer in all its glory can be harmful to our animals, who depend on us to keep them safe. Indeed, unlike humans, our furry and feathered companions have a very limited ability to sweat and are therefore more susceptible to heatstroke.
Here are some tips to keep your animal safe:
1. Give your animal plenty of water. Just like us, animals will drink more than usual when it’s hot to stay hydrated, so make sure you leave out more water than you normally do. You could also put an ice cube or two into their water dish to keep the water cool.
2. Avoid walking your dog in the afternoon. Instead, take your walks in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler. Please keep your walks much shorter than usual.
3. Check the pavement temperature. If it is too hot for you to go barefoot, then it is too hot for your dog’s sensitive paws; their pawpads could get burned. Walk on grass instead. In the event of a burn, seek veterinary assistance.
4. Offer your animal different ways to cool down. Frozen treats, kiddie pool, air conditioner, fans, cooling mats and water games can be soothing and amusing.
5. Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle. Need to run an errand on the other side of town? Leave your animal at home! Your dash into the store might have deadly consequences for your companion. Find out more about the dangers of leaving an animal in a car by clicking on this link: True or False: Answer the Five Following Statements Regarding Heatstroke
6. Close curtains and blinds. This will help keep your place cool and the sun out.
7. Keep your companion birds away from windows. Birds, too, can have a difficult time during heatwaves; keep them out of direct sunlight.
8. Provide mental stimulation for your animal at home. In terms of energy expenditure, 15 minutes of mental stimulation can be equivalent to 1 hour of running for your dog! Why not take advantage of this on days that are too hot to go out for a walk? For some fun games, click on these links: Ten Games to Keep Your Dog Busy or How to Keep Your Cat Busy
9. Brush your animal regularly. Regular grooming removes loose fur and helps keep mats away, which can cause discomfort during hotter days.
10. Watch out for heatstroke. An animal with heatstroke needs to see a veterinarian immediately. On your way to the clinic, apply a damp cloth to their body, but never use ice cubes. Look out for these signs and symptoms of heatstroke and overheating:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive panting or drooling
- Confusion or disorientation
- Bright red gums
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Collapse, seizure or coma
- Body temperature higher than 40°C
Pay special attention to short-nosed, senior or very young animals, as they have more difficulty breathing, particularly during a heatwave.
When you take these precautions, you and your animal can enjoy the summer safely.