While we are still experiencing cool weather here in Taylorville, Illinois, the summer is sneaking up on us. The official day of summer is June 20th. Soon families will be firing up their grills, planning their camping trips, or perhaps having fun at Lake Taylorville. There are tons of activities to keep you and the family busy this time of year.
But with all the summer activities comes the heat and humidity. For this reason, we are giving you hot weather safety tips for your furry friends so they are kept safe and can enjoy the whole summer too!
Dangers of Hot Weather and Overheating
The first thing to understand is how easily a pet can get overheated in hot and humid weather. Too many pets suffer from overheating this time of year. They can get overheated in their yard at home, during a hike, or even on a short car trip. Here signs to watch for that your pet could be overheating:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Erratic pulse
- White or pale gums that seem dry.
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Confusion, low energy, or sudden lack of coordination
- Rectal temperature of more than 103°F
If you see any of these symptoms, do not hesitate! The sooner you act, then the faster you can bring your pet’s temperature down. Quickly find access to cool water and wet your pet down. Provide them with plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink, and call your vet to see if you should bring them in. You can always contact us for guidance on what you should do.
Here are some additional links for more information on protecting pets during the summer:
Cats: Summertime Dangers for Cats.
Rabbits: Keeping Your Rabbit Cool in the Summer.
Horses: Caring for Horses During Hot Weather.
Overheating Prevention Tips
The easiest way to handle overheating is to stop it from happening in the first place. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.
- Never leave your pet in the car, even if you think it’s going to be just for a little while; this can be fatal! Per the Humane Society, a car can get up to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes when it’s only 85 degrees outside!
- Keep your pet hydrated by always having plenty of clean, fresh water to drink. If you take your pet on a hike or road trip, ensure to have enough water and a water bowl for your pet.
- Watch the humidity. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. Panting takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they cannot cool themselves. Their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly.
- If your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun with plenty of shade and cold water. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct airflow. Note: A doghouse does not provide relief from the heat; it makes it worse.
- Keep off the hot pavement as much as possible. Hot pavement can cause overheating and not to mention burned paws!
Caution: some people think that shaving their pets in the summer will help them stay cooler, but this is not the case. Pets’ coats have several layers that are essential to their comfort in the heat. Robbing your pet of this natural cooling system can lead to discomfort, overheating, and other dangers like sunburn or skin cancer. However, grooming your pet is okay. Grooming will help make their fur more manageable.
Pets can be more sensitive to hot weather and humidity than we are. They cannot tell you they are getting too hot. Therefore, it is up to you to take preventative measures to keep them safe from hot weather and know the signs of overheating so you can act quickly.
Stacey Funderburk D.V.M.
Countryside Veterinary Services