Although weather in the Buckeye State can be unpredictable, you can count on July and August temperatures to soar into the 90s. As you sit in the shade and sip iced tea, keep in mind that your furry friend requires special consideration in the summer months, to prevent heat-related injuries and illness. We’ve asked a few of our favorite patients* to share their secrets for beating the heat and staying safe, to ensure your furry friend is covered.
#1: Provide your energetic pup plenty of shade and water
Like most Labs, Daisy could play outside all day, every day, and loves running alongside the fence, while her friend on the other side, a Golden retriever puppy, matches her pace for pace.
I love having such a big yard, and never get tired—I think I could run forever. My mom makes me stop and take breaks, though, telling me that if I overdo it, I’ll earn myself a trip to the veterinarian. I like Dr. Pumpelly, but I don’t want to take a break from playing, unless it’s to go to the dog park to play with new friends. My mom sits outside, and makes me rest in the shade every so often, and gives me cool water from a big bowl, which I lap up gratefully. But let’s face it—I would probably never stop and get a drink on my own, when I’m having so much fun.
Daisy recognizes how lucky she is that her astute owner watches closely, to ensure she doesn’t overdo it on hot days, encouraging her to rest in the shade with cool water to re-energize.
#2: Take extra care with heatstroke-prone pets
Brutus is a bulldog, and while his owner loves to kiss his smushy face, she understands that his flat features mean he has shortened airways that make it difficult to dissipate heat by panting, a dog’s main cooling method. Since a scary episode last summer, she takes special precautions to prevent heat exhaustion.
People think I’m lazy since I lay around on the couch a lot in the summer, but the truth is, I have trouble cooling off when it’s hot outside. I didn’t realize my inefficient internal cooling system could make me feel bad until last summer, when I overdid it at a hot July Fourth picnic. I fell asleep in the yard after stealing a hot dog, and woke up panting, dizzy, and unable to walk well. I stood up, vomited, and fell over. My mom rushed me inside and put me in a bathtub of cool water, and then took me to the emergency hospital to be checked out, although I felt better. I heard them say I had heat exhaustion, and I was lucky it hadn’t progressed to heatstroke, because dogs can suffer internal organ damage, or die, from heatstroke.
Fortunately, Brutus’ owner recognized heat exhaustion signs, and took quick action to help him escape a more serious situation. Any pet can develop heat exhaustion, but brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, pugs, and Persian cats, are at a higher risk. Others at increased risk include:
- Older pets
- Overweight pets
- Pets with debilitating diseases, such as heart disease, laryngeal paralysis, and collapsing trachea
#3: Avoid exercising in the midday heat
Duke the weimaraner jogs with his owner, an avid runner, almost every day. His owner knew when he adopted Duke as a puppy that he had chosen a breed requiring a lot of exercise, and welcomed his new accountability partner. The inseparable pair have run several pet-friendly races together.
I don’t love getting kicked out of bed before the sun rises, but my dad says if we want our daily jog, we have to run before it gets too hot. I know he’s right—a few times we ran in the heat, I was tired for the rest of the day, and didn’t feel well. Plus, if we run when it’s sunny, the pavement is hot on my feet. Once, my feet hurt after running, so I licked them to make them feel better. My dad noticed, and took me to see Dr. Pumpelly, who explained that the pavement gets hot in the sun, and can burn even my thick-skinned feet. My dad felt bad that I got hurt, and now, he always puts his hand on the pavement to ensure it’s not hot.
Like Duke, you may not be a morning person, but your pup will thank you for moving their lunchtime walk to the morning hours, when the air, and the pavement, is cooler. If you prefer, head out in the evening, but don’t forget to check the pavement, since it can stay hot for hours after the sun goes down.
#4: Protect your pet before outdoor adventures
Sunny the golden retriever looks forward to summer all year, because she knows that warm weather means camping with her family, who prepare a lot of gear, food, and toys. And, Sunny’s annual pre-camping veterinary visit is always on their list.
When I see the sleeping bags and canoes come out, I know it’s my favorite time of year—camping season. Before we go on our first trip, my family takes me to the veterinarian to stock up on heartworm, flea, and tick prevention products. I’ve heard Dr. Pumpelly talk about the scary diseases mosquitoes and ticks can cause, and I’ve been bitten by fleas that caused itchy red bumps on my skin. Also, one of the office assistants checks that my microchip is still working, so if I’m separated from my family, a shelter worker can help me find my way home.
Before your outdoor adventure with your pet, add an appointment with Airway Animal Hospital to your list. We can update their protection against dangerous diseases with heartworm, flea, and tick preventives, and the proper vaccinations.
We hope you and your furry pal enjoy a safe, healthy summer together, but we’re here if you need us. Call us if your pet overheats, or singes a paw pad, so we can help return them to health to enjoy the rest of the summer.
*Daisy, Brutus, and friends are fictional characters we’ve used to illustrate these important points. Plus, we could never choose a favorite patient—we love them all!