6 Ways to Protect Your Pets This Summer
The dog days of summer have arrived. These tips from Best Friends Animal Society will help you keep your dog (or cat) safe when mercury rises.
You know how uncomfortable you get when the temperature soars above 90 and the only thing that helps is blasting the AC, dipping into a pool or sipping an iced beverage? Imagine how your pet feels when it’s that hot and humid outside—plus, they can’t remove those fur coats!
It’s important to know how to keep your dog or cat safe during the peak of our New Jersey summer, especially if you’re a new pet owner (so many of us adopted new furry friends while spending more time at home during the pandemic). Best Friends Animal Society conducted an experiment on a 95-degree day and found that the temperature inside a car—with windows down a few inches—increased from 69 to 140 degrees in just 10 minutes.
Normal body temperatures for dogs and cats range from 99.5–102 degrees, says Kevin Yun, DVM of Allendale Veterinary Hospital. When a dog’s temperature rises to 108 degrees, or a cat’s to 106 degrees, they can suffer irreparable organ damage and even die. And their body temps can rise by doing just about anything in the sweltering heat, whether that’s sitting in a parked car, going on a hike with their humans or hanging out at a sunny spot in the yard.
Dr. Yun says there are telltale signs that could indicate your pet is overheated: Be on the lookout for excessive panting, difficulty breathing, tacky gum color, lethargy or loss of appetite. See your vet immediately if any these occur.
But don’t let it go that far! These six tips from Best Friends will help keep Fido and Fluffy comfortable and safe when the mercury rises:
- Keep pets indoors during the day. It may sound obvious but it’s hottest outside when the sun is up, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If pets do spend time outside during the day, ensure they have access to shade at all times and be certain tethered dogs are within reach of shade and water.
- Provide pets with fresh, cool water at all times. Dump and refill water bowls often—most pooches won’t drink warm water no matter how thirsty they are.
- Bring your dog out for exercise during the cooler morning or evening hours, not in the intense afternoon heat. Bring water along for both you and your pet.
- Be aware of the temperature of the sidewalk, asphalt, sand or even packed dirt, as these surfaces can burn pups’ sensitive paw pads if they are too hot. Grass and greenery are cooler.
- Consult your veterinarian about whether your pet needs a pet-approved sunscreen on exposed areas. Dogs with bald patches or minimal coats may need sunscreen, as do Nordic breeds that are prone to auto-immune related sun diseases.
- Never leave your pet in a parked car when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees. Nope, not even with the windows partway down, in the shade or for a quick errand. Dogs and cats can’t sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature. But panting does not provide enough relief inside a hot car, and heat stroke can happen without any warning.
What else should we keep in mind when protecting our pets in the heat? Tell us below or DM us on Instagram @bergenmagnj!