No one wants to put a damper on summer fun in the sun, but you should keep in mind these important heat-safety points that will help you and your beloved pets enjoy a safe and thrilling summer.
1. Some pets are more prone to heatstroke than others
While any pet with a fur coat can overheat, certain animals, including brachycephalic pets (i.e., those with flat faces), such as bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat. Their narrowed airways, small nostrils, and compacted muzzles mean they take in less air and dissipate less heat. This can lead to the rapid onset of overheating and eventual heatstroke without early intervention. Pets with long, dense fur coats, and geriatric and overweight pets, are also more susceptible. Keep these animals in the air-conditioned indoors on hot days.
2. Pets can get sunburned, too
Yes—our furry friends can suffer from sunburn, also known as solar dermatitis. While most of their body is covered by a protective layer of fur, areas like the nose, muzzle, inguinal region, and ear tips, especially in cats, are vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays. Signs include skin redness, scaling, crusting, or ulceration. The best sunburn prevention is avoiding the sun whenever possible, but some sunscreens suitable for pets are available. Contact our veterinary team and we can help you choose the best product for your pet.
3. The inside of a car can quickly reach extreme temperatures
Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked vehicles, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It is no surprise that a car’s interior heats up on a warm day, but how high and how quickly the temperature can soar is shocking. For example, on a tepid 70-degree day, a car’s interior can reach higher than 100 degrees in only 20 minutes. Imagine the sheer heat on a 90-degree day. Never leave your pet, even for a few minutes, in a parked vehicle on a hot day. The AVMA summarizes this independent study here.
4. Your pet’s paw pads are at risk
Have you ever walked barefoot on hot pavement? If you have, you probably learned quickly to wear shoes the next time. Our pets do not have this choice, and they can suffer if forced to walk on scorching hot surfaces. Perform this safety test before you walk: Place your open palm on the surface in question and attempt to keep it there for seven seconds. Unable to? Then it is too hot for your pet. Consider booties for your dog if you will be frequently walking on pavement or asphalt, or simply walk her during the cooler hours of the day.
5. Saltwater toxicity is a real problem
While not an extremely common problem, saltwater poisoning can be serious for your dog. The excess sodium in her body causes other electrolyte imbalances and leads to vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, behavior changes, and, if severe, seizures, coma, and death. If you are planning a day at the beach with your pooch, ensure you have plenty of fresh, cool water that you encourage her to drink often. If you notice your pooch lapping up seawater, take her away from the water and watch her closely, as saltwater toxicity signs are often mild at first, but can quickly become severe.
Remember that the warm, sunny days of summer should be enjoyed safely by all—our pets included. If you believe your pet may be suffering from a heat-related condition, contact us, or head to your nearest veterinary emergency hospital immediately.