If you’re familiar with Arizona weather, you know that sweltering temperatures begin early in the season—well before summer actually hits. This means we can enjoy more of what warm weather has to offer, including swimming, boating, barbecues, and other outdoor activities. But, as temps begin soaring into the triple digits, we urge you to be especially cautious with your four-legged friends, who need some extra attention this time of year. Whether you’re getting together or getting away, keep the following points in mind when making your summer plans with pets.
#1: Pets are particularly sensitive to the heat
With their fur coats, it’s no surprise that dogs, cats, and our other four-legged friends are susceptible to overheating. Unlike their two-legged companions, who regulate their temperature by sweating, pets have minimal sweat glands, and must dissipate heat via evaporative cooling (i.e., panting). This cooling mechanism is effective, but does have its limits, and overheating can occur quickly with minimal warning. Take heed of these important tips when you need to keep your pets cool and comfortable:
- Brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds, including pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and Persian cats, have shorter, more compacted airways, making them more vulnerable to heat exhaustion.
- Keep sensitive pets, such as brachycephalic breeds, senior pets, and pets with health conditions, in the air-conditioned indoors on particularly hot days.
- While a haircut is fine, do not completely shave your pet.
- Never leave your pet unattended in a car on a warm day.
- Never force your pet to exercise in the heat. Instead, exercise them in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are cooler, and choose walking paths with plenty of shade.
- If your pet will be spending the day outdoors, ensure they have access to shade throughout the day.
- Provide plenty of fresh water for your pet at all times.
Why are pets more at risk than wildlife, you ask? Many of our pets are accustomed to living indoors, and haven’t learned they need to stay cool.
#2: Cookouts can be a recipe for disaster for pets
Nothing says summer like a gathering of friends and family for a barbecue cookout, but these fun get-togethers pose a myriad of risks for our furry friends, if they crash the party. From alcohol, to corn cobs, to ribs, to chocolate desserts, many popular summer dishes are equally tantalizing to our pets, who may try to sneak a sample. Here’s the problem with summer cookout foods:
- Barbecue ribs, hot dogs, and other high-fat foods can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis.
- Corn cobs, chicken wings, and other bones can become lodged in the intestines, causing a blockage that may require surgery.
- Alcohol can smell and taste alluring to our pets, and may lead to weakness, or coma, if consumed.
- Chocolate and xylitol are popular dessert ingredients that may result in low blood sugar, hyperactivity, or seizures in pets.
#3: July Fourth is a stressful day for many pets
More pets go missing on this summer holiday than any other day of the year, leading to an influx of admissions at the local animal shelter. When pets are scared, the fight or flight response takes hold, often leading anxious pets to bolt when the fireworks commence. Consider these tips to keep your pet safe and content this Independence Day:
- Contact Palisades Veterinary Hospital about microchipping your pet, to ensure they have permanent identification.
- Update your pet’s identification tags, and ensure the collar is snug and secure.
- Leave your pets at home with some calming background music or television on the big night, rather than bringing them along for the party.
- Consider calming supplements or medications, if your pet has severe noise aversions. Speak with our veterinary team, if you think your pet needs medication for the July Fourth holiday.
#4: Other popular summer activities can make pets anxious
Fireworks aren’t the only summer noisemakers that can send pets’ stress response through the roof. Speedboats, jet skis, skateboards, and hoverboards can all be nerve-wracking, and may cause furry friends to bolt, panic, or react unexpectedly. Help keep your pet calm and safe with the following advice:
- Keep them on a secure leash at the beach, and on walks where you may encounter a new noise or contraption.
- Desensitize your pet by gently playing audio clips of potential noisemakers, stopping the clip if your pet becomes visibly agitated.
- Secure them with a properly fitted flotation device if you will be spending time on a boat or at the beach.
At Palisades Veterinary Hospital, we wish you a safe and happy season of fun in the sun with your pets. Contact us with any questions or concerns about summer pet safety.
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