It’s summer in Austin, Texas and the weather is hot, hot, hot. Many of my pet sitting customers have been asking me how to keep their pets safe and cool in this southern Texas heat.
First, let’s get down to the truth about your dog and the summertime weather…
No pet should be in the sun or hot areas for prolonged periods of time!
It is also very important to watch your dog or cat for signs of heat stroke and Hyperthermia, both of which are medical emergencies. Each of these are caused by your pet’s physiology, and their inability to handle heat like their pet moms and dads do.
Humans and most pets handle heat, in the Summer or otherwise, differently. What you feel is slightly uncomfortable, could become a pet medical emergency if you are not careful.
Pets who are prone to heat-related problems.
Dogs have a different physiology than their human counter-parts. In fact, did you know that dogs sweat primarily through their paws?
If you are a pet mom or dad for one of these dog breads or with dog issues on the list, you should take extra precautions during the Summer heat.
- breeds with heavy fur coats
- geriatric dogs
- bracycepalic breeds (short nose and pushed in faces like pugs, pekingese, boxers, bulldogs, etc.)
- obese dogs
- dogs that have conditions that affect breathing or heart problems
- history of heat-related illness
Cats, likewise, have different anatomies and physiology than humans; enough to make the heat deadly. If your feline furkid shares a trait in the below list, you should take special care for their heat levels and comfort.
- flat-faced cat breeds like Persian and Himalayan
- thick feline coats
- geriatric cats
- obese cats
- cats suffering with other medical conditions (breathing, heart, etc)
And, it should go without saying, but, do not leave any pet in a parked car.
What can a pet parent do this Summer?
You might be thinking that all of this serious discussion means that the Summer is a time to wall your pet away from the world. Or, you might also be thinking that your dog or cat should be placed into a room with an air conditioner set to ‘blizzard’.
This isn’t the case.
At Ace Pet Care, we preach precaution, preparedness and preparation over anything else in the Summer. Your pet and yourself will be much happier simply by keeping a few things in mind while in these hot, hot days.
Provide plenty of water, hydration and shade
Having access to cool, fresh water will help your dog stay in their comfort zone. Not only this, but keeping your dog hydrated on warmer than usual days can help them regulate their body heat.
While it is a myth that pets fed ice can see excessive bloating, note that if you give your pets frozen treats or ice, they could vomit. This is a similar issue that humans have in excessive heat; we get thirst and sometimes replenish too quickly, causing the issue.
Don’t rely on only a fan for cooling down
Here is the bottom line on using fans to keep pets cool – it doesn’t work. While a 90-100 degree afternoon will possibly let a fan relieve some of the heat for humans, for your dog, that fan might as well be not on.
Limit exercise and activities on “hot ones”
Switch up your intensity and length of the time that your dog is active outside on hot days. On truly hot days (Austin sees quite a few 100 degree days each summer), limit activities outside to morning and late evenings. And, once again, make sure that fresh, cool water is available all throughout the day, whether you are inside or outside.
Keep an eye on humidity
Austin, especially in the southern areas of the city, can see humidity throughout the year. For other areas around the country this varies. What doesn’t is the impact that the humidity can have on your pet. Remember, the heat itself can cause problems, but adding on the blanket of humidity can lead to your dog overheating much faster than one would expect.
You have shoes, but your pets…
Not every walking surface is cool to the touch like a grass is. Asphalt, specifically, can become hot enough to cook food on. For our furkids, this could mean burned paw pads; and that discomfort can be extremely painful.
Prepare for possible power outages
Creating a disaster plan is always a good thing; with, or without pet ownership. However, having a plan when the power goes out in 100+ degree temperatures can lead to a positive outcome in keeping your pet out of heat stroke and other temperature trouble.
Watch for heatstroke signs in your furkid!
The final thing I want to leave you with are the symptoms of heatstroke and how to help your dog under distress. Under most conditions, contacting your vet, or pet ER, would be advisable during these symptoms.
Initial heatstroke symptoms
These are some of the beginning symptoms of heatstroke in pets, specifically in dogs over cats. If these symptoms are present, apply ice packs or cold towels to your furkid’s chest, back and neck. You can also run cool water (not cold water) over them. Keep hydrating, slowly, and call your vet immediately.
- Excessive or strained panting
- Reddened gums or moist tissues
- Excessive drooling
- Increase in body temp (above 103 degrees)
- Black, tarry stools
- Changes in mental status and activity
Dangerous dog heatstroke symptoms
If the initial symptoms and signs of heatstroke are present, and go without treatment, you open to your pets to steadily increasing distress. Eventually, this could become a life or death situation. If the above symptoms are present, or if the following are beginning, immediately get your furkid to your vet as soon as possible.
- Rapid / Irregular heart rate
- Muscle Tremors
- Wobbly or drunken movement
- Unconsciousness where your furkid is unresponsive
Beat the Heat this Summer
Today, we looked at a few reasons why your dog and Summer heat can be dangerous. I also hope you have seen what simple things that you can do for the comfort and health of your furkid. We also look at the signs of heatstroke, and what you can do to keep this terrible ailment away from your furkid.
We at Ace Pet Care hope that this Summer is a safe, cool and happy one for you and your furkid.
Are you looking for some help this Summer for inhome pet sitting in Austin? Do you need to make sure that your furkid is comfortable when you can’t be there?