By Dr. Norette L. Underwood
How do you cope with summer heat and your pet?
Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets.
The most common heat related problem for pets is heat stroke. Also known as heat stress or hyperpyrexia, heat stroke is a real emergency for dogs. Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase of 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit. Since dogs don’t sweat like we do, they are unable to dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.
Any outdoor pet can overheat on a warm summer day, but short -faced breeds, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, are at a higher risk. In addition, every year thousands of pets succumb to heat stroke because they were left in cars while their owners ran “just a few” errands. On a 70-degree day, temperatures inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees in less than one hour!
Some owners try to help their pets by shaving the dog’s long coat. A well-groomed and clean hair coat can actually insulate the dog from the heat and help keep them cooler.
Veterinarians will recommend shaving specific areas in longhaired breeds. For example, shaving around the anus and groin can help keep the area clean and free from infections.
In some cases, shaving the hair coat could expose a lightly pigmented dog to potential sunburn. Boxers, Pit Bulls and Dalmatians are just a few examples of dogs that are at risk. In these cases, chronic exposure to hot sunny days damages the skin and causes tender, red scaly lesions.
It is possible to enjoy the summer with your pets by taking just a few precautions. Always be aware of the weather forecast.
Don’t leave your pet unattended outside or plan heavy exercise on hot, humid days. If your pet is left outdoors, he must have access to adequate shade and fresh cool water.
When it’s time to run errands, leave your pet at home. Even a few minutes in a hot car is enough to increase your pet’s body temperature dramatically. If the pavement or sidewalk is too hot for you to walk on, it is too hot for your pet’s paws to walk on.
If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively and the tongue really wide and large or dog collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment. Use cool wet towels on his backside; paw pads, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down. Fans are often helpful too. DO NOT USE ICE! Then, get him to your veterinarian immediately so that they can assess his status and begin life saving treatments.
If you have questions please contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of the Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Vet Mobile service at firstname.lastname@example.org