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Keep Your Pet Cool and Safe This Summer

Summer is here! Whether you have a hairless Sphynx or a hairy Husky, the heat this time of year can be dangerous for pets. Whatever the breed or size of your kitty or canine, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your pet safe and comfy as the mercury rises.

Dogs and Cats Don’t Sweat

While you may be drenched from head to toe in perspiration, your furry friends release heat and regulate their temperature differently. This means you have to help keep them cool.

How Do Dogs and Cats Keep Cool Without Sweat?

There are some facts you should know about how they regulate their body temperatures.

  • If you’ve seen your dog belly flop into your kitchen tile after a midday walk, your dog is using one tactic for body temperature regulation: transferring his or her heat onto a cool surface. This is also a common practice of cats.
  • Dogs and cats use convection to cool themselves. How? Pups often do this by wading into cool water or standing right in front of a fan or A/C vent. This pulls heat away from their bodies and into the water or air.
  • Panting. Both dogs and cats pant to cool themselves. As their saliva evaporates off their tongues, their body heat lowers. 
  • Shedding is a longer-term reaction to heat. By letting go of their undercoat, dogs and cats can cool off.

Common Myths About Dogs and Body Heat

  • Myth: Shaving your dog will keep them cooler. If your pet has a double or triple coat, always ask if it’s a good idea to shave them. A close shave often results in sunburn more than better heat adaptation.
  • Myth: Dogs sweat from their paws to cool themselves. While it’s true dogs do sweat from their paws, this is more often to gain traction and protect their paws than keep their bodies cool. Those pads have too little surface area to truly cool them off. Cooling down is done more so through panting.
  • Myth: Cracking the window is enough to keep a pet cool in the car. Temperatures can rise rapidly in a car, even with the windows cracked. It is never a good idea to leave your dog in the car.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Pet from Summer Heat?

There are ways you can help your dog or cat beat the summer heat and stay safe in the sun! Here are some of our top tips for keeping your pet cooler than a cucumber:

  1. Water, water, everywhere! Make sure your pets have access to cool, fresh water outdoors and indoors. Bring a travel bowl on walks and keep a full bowl wherever your pet may be hanging out. Check outside water dishes and refill them with cool water when the water is warm, try to keep the dish in the shade and don’t use metal bowl for food and water outside - they can get too hot for your dog or cat!
  2. Change your pet’s walk time to the early morning or evening. This especially applies to highly active play time and walks. 
  3. Don’t let your pet stand on hot asphalt too long and beware of astroturf. Asphalt can be 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air and astroturf can be 40 to 70 degrees hotter. One rule we suggest is testing the temperature of the surface by placing your hand on it. If it’s too hot for you to hold your hand on for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pet to walk on.
  4. Provide backyard shade. If your pet is going to relax outside, make sure they have some refuge from the sun. An umbrella or patio cover are perfect and make sure they have a cool place to lie down. If you can make a shady area over a spot your dog can dig in, that’s even better. Shade and some cool ground will make your canine companion more comfortable. 
  5. Heatstroke can be fatal and cause permanent damage. Make sure to know the signs of heatstroke and how to respond.

Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats experience heat differently than we do. Because their bodies respond to heat differently, they can more rapidly slip into heat exhaustion or heatstroke. These occur when your pets’ body temperatures rises and they cannot release enough heat to cool themselves down to a safe temperature. Heatstroke is always an emergency!

Some common signs of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Pale or flaring red gums
  • A bright red tongue
  • Strained breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizure or falling over
  • Lack of urination
  • Confusion
  • Coma

How to respond if you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke:

  1. Immediately find a cooler environment for your pet.
  2. Douse your pet in cool (not ice cold) water and place a fan in front of them.
  3. Call us as quickly as possible. Pets suffering from heatstroke may need IV fluids, and oxygen.

Dogs with brachycephaly (short snouts) have a higher likelihood of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. So, if you have a Pug, Frenchie, Bulldog, or another flat-faced beauty, be very careful when it comes to summer heat.

We hope you have a wonderful summer!

Image credit: Pixabay

Pet Safety for this Fourth of July

You have probably heard of the town in Italy that switched to silent firework shows to help the town’s pets better cope with the booms and blast of traditional fireworks. But did you know there aren’t really “silent fireworks?” Until they invent truly silent firework shows there are other steps you can take to keep your fur family safe and calm this year while you enjoy hotdogs, sparklers, and other holiday favorites. From beer to bugs, the Fourth of July has a long list of stresses and dangers that pet parents can watch for to keep tails wagging and kitties purring. As you celebrate your patriotic love of America, you can take these measures to keep your patriotic pups, cats, and other pets safe.

Here are some of the most common questions regarding the Fourth of July and pet dangers. We tried to answer some questions you may have and suggest ways you can help keep your pet safe this Independence Day!

1. Should I Bring My Dog Along for the Celebration?

Between crowds, noise, and handouts, it’s best to let your best buddy try to relax at home. The Fourth of July can be quite stressful and any means to keep your dog’s routine the same can help reduce your pup’s anxiety.

2. How Do I Help Keep My Canine Companion Comfortable During the Firework Shows?

Mutt earmuffs for noise protection don’t quite cut it. While there are products on the market for noise protection for pups, we find very few dogs are willing to keep them on. So, how can you keep your pup calm, cool, and collected while fireworks blast near and far?

Try playing your dog or cat some relaxing music. If your dog takes medication for noise anxiety (like thunderstorms), be sure to medicate her before the shows begins. If you’re having guests over, a nervous dog may be better off crated in a quiet room away from the excitement.

3. How Do I Keep My Pet Safe During the Excitement of the Holiday?

If you’re having guests over, be sure to prepare them with your pet-friendly policies before they arrive. These should include:

  • Don’t leave any doors leading out open: The Fourth of July is the busiest time of year for shelters. They receive more cats and dogs July 5th than any other time of the year. The blasts of fireworks confuse and can disorient pets making them more vulnerable to becoming lost. Closing the door also reduces noise inside.

  • This is also a great time of year to double check that your pet’s microchip is up to date or having your pet microchipped if you haven’t done it yet. Make sure your pet’s ID is also current.

  • Human food can cause pets to have upset stomachs and lead to potential poisoning. Keep pet treats handy for guests and let them know how many you feel comfortable letting your pet have.

  • Do not leave used or unused fireworks, lighter fluid, glow sticks/jewelry, or citronella products within reach of your pets. The same is true if you’re grilling: be very careful if hot food falls on the ground that your dog doesn’t gobble it up. Always keep an eye on your dog or cat to make sure they don’t accidentally bump into the grill as well.

  • Don’t let your dog or cat drink alcoholic beverages. This can result in your dog or cat becoming intoxicated and in some cases lead to coma or death.

  • Sunscreen and bug sprays are made for people—let’s keep it that way. While we would suggest using zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock to keep your dog’s adorable nose from getting sunburned, products made for humans can get your dog sick since their immediate response will probably be to lick it off.

After the celebrations slow to a few stray fireworks in the distance, survey your yard for any remnants of fireworks or other things you don’t want your pet to play with or eat. Kids drop food and there may be wrappers here and there. Keep this in mind when you walk your dog the next day, too.

4. Know Your Pet and When to Ask for Help

Sometimes precautionary measures are just not enough, and the noise and bustle of the holiday is too much for our four-legged companions to handle. Give us a call - there are a variety of medications and remedies that can help in easing this extra stress on your pet. We’re happy to help.

Happy Fourth of July from our clinic and staff!

Image credit: Pixabay

 

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Minneapolis, MN 55410
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