An excellent way for you and your pet to get some exercise is by going outside and enjoying the summer season. It’s the perfect opportunity to get some fun in the sun and soak up some vitamin D before winter arrives. Whether you and your furry friend are taking a walk in the park or enjoying some time by the pool, being outside is a great way to bond with your pet and make some unforgettable memories.
However, along with the sunshine comes rising temperatures, and we can often forget that the heat is just as hazardous to our pets as it is to us. If we don’t regulate our time outside or remain sufficiently hydrated, we’re not the only ones who might suffer from heat exhaustion—our pets can, too.
But there are ways to be safe outside when it’s hot while still enjoying time outdoors, and we want to share our best tips for keeping your pets cool.
Keep Cool While Walking
Taking your pets on walks and letting them exercise during the day is a crucial part of the pet-owning experience. But, pay attention to when it is too hot for them to be outside for an extended period. One way you can test this is by standing on the concrete with your bare feet. If you can’t stand it for more than a couple of seconds, then it’s hot enough to burn your pet’s paws.
Therefore, instead of walking your pet mid-afternoon, walk them earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t as high in the sky and the temperatures are lower. It may also be good to take shorter, more frequent walks at cooler times during the day instead of one long walk during the summer months.
In addition, make sure to bring water along to keep your pet hydrated. There are plenty of water bottle options made specifically for pets, or you can bring along a collapsible water bowl. If you can, guide them to walk in the grass instead of on the pavement, and let them rest in the shade if you notice exhaustion or excess panting.
Splash Around in the Water
Whether you go to a pool, the lake, or fill up a kiddie pool in your backyard, water activities are a great way for pets to have fun and keep cool.
While your pet is playing in the water, make sure you monitor them at all times. If you’re near a deeper body of water, provide your pet with a lifejacket to ensure they remain floating. Especially if you are on a boat, your dog should be wearing a lifejacket to keep them safe.
Also, be mindful of the kind of water your pet is drinking while outdoors, especially if the water source is untreated. Random puddles, some lakes, and slow-moving streams can harbor dangerous bacteria that, if consumed, can lead to life-threatening illnesses for your pet.
An alternative to playing in the water is utilizing a cooling mat. These can be purchased online or at pet stores and placed outside for your pets to lay on. The special gel inside ensures your pet remains cool and comfortable on sunny days, even while relaxing outdoors.
Encourage Water Intake
Sometimes, pets don’t get enough water, just like humans. The easiest solution is to make sure water is always easily accessible. Keep plenty of bowls filled with water around the house and ensure your pet knows where they are.
When outside, bring a water bottle designated just for your pet, in addition to your own. If you have difficulty getting your pet to drink, you can entice them with ice, a bit of broth, or other pet-safe liquids added to water to give it some flavor.
Additionally, wet food contains higher moisture concentrations, so consider switching or mixing wet and dry food for an alternative source of hydration during the summer months.
Leave Your Pet at Home
While taking your dog on a quick errand with you may seem like a fun idea, they should stay at home if you plan to leave them in the car. On an 85ºF day, temperatures in your vehicle can rise to 102ºF in merely 10 minutes. Studies have shown that parking in the shade or leaving windows down does not significantly impact temperatures.
As temperatures in the summer are usually much hotter than 85ºF, leaving your pet in a parked vehicle for any duration of time can be detrimental to your pet’s health. If you absolutely must leave them in the car, make sure they have a human with them and the AC on to ensure they do not overheat.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
One of the most important ways to ensure your pet is safe and healthy during the summer is understanding what heat exhaustion looks like. The symptoms animals show are different from a human’s, and it can be difficult for an untrained eye to tell when pets may be overheating.
Some of the most obvious signs your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion include:
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Rapid breathing
If you recognize any of these symptoms in your animal, immediately call your vet or visit an emergency pet clinic to administer the proper treatment. You can help to alleviate symptoms by bringing your pet inside into the AC and giving them cool water to drink; however, a visit to the vet may still be necessary.
Going outside and having fun with your pet is one of the best parts of warmer weather, but it’s always important to be cautious of our pets’ health and safety.
If you’re interested to learn more tips and tricks from Operation Kindness, be sure to check out our resources page for more handy guides.