Ah, summer—the perfect time to enjoy exploring the great outdoors while making Instagram-worthy memories with your pet on a long hike, a camping trip, or at a pet-friendly restaurant or brewery. Wherever your outdoor summer adventure takes you and your pet, help them keep their cool by following Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team’s summer heat safety tips.  

#1: Schedule your pet’s summer veterinary visit

Before summer gets underway, schedule an appointment with our team to ensure your pet is protected from the season’s infectious diseases associated with ticks, fleas, and other parasites. Our veterinary professionals will test your pet for heartworms and tick-borne diseases, and prescribe year-round heartworm, flea, and tick prevention medications. 

#2: Adjust your pet’s daily walks

Although you and your pet thrive on daily physical activity, extremely high temperatures pose serious health risks. Keep a close eye on your pet during summer walks to prevent them from experiencing a heat-related emergency, and follow these tips: 

  • Schedule walk times with intention — Exercise your dog during the early morning or late evening to avoid the midday heat. 
  • Keep walks short — Reduce the length of your pet’s walk, and take frequent water breaks. 
  • Stay on the grass — Keep in mind that asphalt can get dangerously hot and burn your pet’s paws. Before setting out, place your hand on the pavement to determine whether you can comfortably keep your hand in place for 10 seconds. If not, ensure your pet stays on the grass as much as possible to avoid a burn.
  • Avoid overdoing — Especially on hot days, keep your pet from doing strenuous, outdoor aerobic activities like running and playing fetch.

#3: Avoid shaving your pet’s coat

If your pet has a thick, fluffy coat, avoid giving them a summer buzz cut. A trim is fine, but never shave down to the skin. Believe it or not, your pet’s coat keeps them from overheating. So, feel free to skip the haircut altogether, and keep in mind that pets with thick coats naturally shed in the summer. Remember that regularly brushing your pet manages shedding and allows better air circulation through their coat. 

#4: Look for pets’ overheating signs

Watch your pet closely for overheating signs such as excessive panting or discomfort. Overweight pets and brachycephalic pets (i.e., breeds with flat faces) are extremely susceptible to heatstroke, and require close monitoring because they are unable to pant effectively.

Recognizing heatstroke’s signs and acting quickly can save your pet from long-term health complications, or death. Pets’ common heatstroke signs include:

  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Red gums
  • Warm and dry skin
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Staring or a dull expression
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

If your pet shows any of these signs, call us immediately or rush your pet to the nearest veterinary emergency clinic. Enroute, you can begin lowering your pet’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to their ears, footpads, belly, and inner thighs. Do not use ice or extremely cold water because extreme body temperature changes can be dangerous to your pet’s health.

High humidity levels can be as dangerous for your pet as high temperatures. Your pet pants to evaporate moisture from their lungs and remove heat from their body. On excessively humid days, your pet may be unable to cool down, and their body temperature can quickly reach a dangerously high level. 

#5: Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle

Parking your vehicle in the shade, leaving water inside, and cracking the windows open are not enough to keep your unattended pet from experiencing a heat-related incident. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can skyrocket within minutes. Take a look at this American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) chart that confirms this risk by showing how quickly a vehicle’s interior temperature rises to dangerous levels. Pledge to leave your pet safely at home. 

Nothing is better than spending time outdoors, and by following our tips, you and your pet can explore the outdoors safely this summer. Call our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team if you have questions about keeping your pet safe during summer’s high temperatures and humidity, or if your pet is experiencing a heat-related emergency.