Summer Pet Dangers and How to Protect Pets from Summer Sun

Summer brings longer days, better weather, and brightness to our daily lives. While we can enjoy the benefits of summer, the change in season may bring challenges for our pets. Continue reading to learn more about summer pet dangers and ways to protect pets from the summer sun.



Heatstroke

Animals can experience heatstroke which is a common problem owners face during the summer months. This life-threatening condition occurs when your pet’s body cannot cool down sufficiently, causing them to overheat. When this happens, their body may begin to shut down, causing severe damage to their organs and brain.

Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Heavy panting

  • Bright red tongue

  • Excessive drooling with thick saliva

  • Pale or red gums

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat

  • Weakness

  • Dizziness

  • Diarrhea/vomiting

  • Seizures/collapse


If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to your emergency veterinarian right away.



Preventing Heatstroke

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your pet’s risk of developing heatstroke such as:

  • Keep your pet indoors during the hottest part of the day

  • Ensure that they have plenty of shade

  • Keep animals well-groomed (clearing excess hair from their coats helps air circulate through their fur)

  • Provide plenty of fresh, cool water

  • Set up a kiddie pool in the shade for them to soak in

 


Dehydration

Dehydration is another major concern for pet owners during the summer months. Dehydration begins when your pet’s body doesn’t have enough fluid to function and hydrate properly. The blood flow and volume of fluids around the body then reduce. As a result, there isn’t enough oxygen flow to the organs and tissues.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • Sunken eyes

  • Dry gums

  • Lethargy

  • Weakness

  • Collapse


One way to test if your pet is dehydrated is to perform a gentle pinch test. This is where you use your thumb and finger to pinch some skin on the back or top of your pet’s head. Pinch gently to not hurt them, but enough to see whether the skin springs back into place. If your pet is sufficiently hydrated, this should happen immediately.

The best way to avoid pet dehydration is to ensure they drink plenty of water and stay cool. Provide bowls of fresh water in various locations around your home and yard. If you go outside with your pet for a short walk, take a collapsible water dish and water with you so they can continue to hydrate.



Walking in the Summer Months

If you have a dog, taking them for walks is a part of your regular routine. However, this activity will require some alteration during the summer months. The air and ground temperature can be too warm for dogs to be walked safely. It is generally safe to take your dog for a walk in temperatures up to 68F, while anything over 77F is high risk. For this reason, avoid the afternoon sun and walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. If it feels too hot for you to walk around, it’s too hot for your dog as well.

Similarly, the ground can heat up to unbearably hot temperatures and while you have shoes to protect your feet, your dog doesn’t. Countless dogs are taken to the veterinarian with burns on their paw pads. Check the ground temperature with the back of your hand before going outside. If you can’t leave your skin against it for more than 5 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.



Sun Protection

Did you know that animals can develop skin cancer and sunburn just like humans can? This is especially true of short-haired breeds since the sun can reach their skin easily. Keeping your animal in the shade can reduce the risk, but you can also purchase pet sunscreen which will provide an additional layer of protection.

For more information about summer pet dangers and how to protect your pets from the summer sun, visit Philadelphia Animal Specialty & Emergency at our office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can call us at (267) 727-3738 to learn more today.

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