Many summer days are scorchers here in southeast Texas. Our neck of the woods is known for blazing temperatures and high humidity levels, which can make you and your pet downright miserable. Unfortunately, our summer weather can also be hazardous, even deadly, for pets, as they can quickly develop heatstroke. Learn how to help prevent your furry pal from experiencing a heat emergency this summer by reading our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team’s tips on hot weather safety.
#1: Protect your pet from the sun
Direct sunlight can burn your pet’s sensitive skin, especially if they have light-colored skin and fur. To help protect your four-legged friend from sunburn, apply a pet-safe sunscreen to the bridge of your pet’s nose and around their eyes, and to other body areas with sparse fur. Keep in mind that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can penetrate thick cloud cover, damaging your pet’s skin on days you least expect sunburn to affect them, so stick to the shade whenever possible. In addition, light-colored cats who hang out in sunny windowsills have an increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer. Your pet isn’t safe from the sun even while indoors.
To protect your pet’s paw pads from becoming burned, outfit them in booties that provide a shield between hot surfaces and their tender feet. Stay off asphalt and pavement, as these surfaces can remain scorching for hours after the sun goes down. Seek out dirt or grass walking paths, and hang out in well-shaded spots to stay as cool as possible.
#2: Offer your pet plenty of opportunities to hydrate
Pets can quickly become dehydrated in the sizzling Texas heat, so encourage your furry pal to drink clean, fresh water at every opportunity. If fresh water is not always readily accessible, your pet may turn to brackish ponds, algae-ridden lakes, or chlorine-treated pools to quench their thirst. By drinking from these water sources, your pet can contract parasites, bacteria, fungi, or toxins that can lead to serious illness, such as leptospirosis, pythiosis, or schistosomiasis.
To ensure your pet drinks clean water, regularly refresh the water in their outdoor bowl. Encourage them to drink water you provide by tossing in a few ice cubes, fresh fruit pieces, or small treats. Provide your four-legged friend with a refreshing splash zone by setting up a small wading pool with a few inches of water, which also gives them a safe water source from which to drink.
#3: Keep your pet from intense outdoor exercising
While your pet still needs plenty of activity to maintain their mental and physical health during the summer, intense outdoor exercise can rapidly bring on heatstroke. Avoid dangerous hot and humid conditions by playing in your air-conditioned home. Fun indoor activities designed to provide your furry pal with mental stimulation and help them burn energy include:
- Hide-and-seek — If you loved this game as a child, you will enjoy it more by playing it with your four-legged friend. While your cat may not search for you when you call, your dog is likely to come running to sniff out your hiding place.
- Agility course — Using furniture and other household items, create an agility course, which is a great way for your pet to burn calories and improve muscle mass and flexibility. Build jumps out of couch cushions, weave poles out of book stacks, and a tunnel out of blankets draped over chairs. Use treats and praise to encourage your pet to get through the course.
#4: Know how to administer heatstroke first aid to your pet
Here in southeast Texas, your pet can easily overheat during the summer. However, by spotting your four-legged friend’s early heatstroke signs, you can quickly jump into action to cool your pet safely and effectively. If your furry pal is panting excessively, drooling heavily, or appears weak, lethargic, or confused, cool them off by doing the following:
- Bringing them into an air-conditioned area
- Running tepid water over them
- Pointing a fan at them
- Offering them fresh cool water to drink
Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency that requires immediate treatment. If you suspect your pet is overheating, take action to cool them off at home, then let our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers team know you’re on your way.