The upcoming weeks are predicted to be relatively cool for this time of year but lower temperatures do not mean that people or their four-legged friends are not in danger of heat exhaustion. Man’s best friend is particularly at risk as owners do not always know what signs to look for or how to prevent over heating. Hydration, relaxation and even the correct hair cut are part of a proactive plan to keep Fur-babies healthy and happy.
The first and most important thing for owners to do is to be sure that their pets are hydrated. As summer heat sets in, water bowls may need to be refilled several times a day. Outside activity is an important part of keeping them happy and healthy and water, along with quality food, is the fuel that will keep them going. In addition to water bowls, pet owners can place a small baby pool in their yard for their four-legged friends to relax in and frozen treats to help them stay cool.
According to Sherry Shupe,owner of Fur-Baby Boutique, Daycare, Spa & hotel, in downtown Milford, there are many frozen treats for dogs currently on the market but pet owners should keep in mind that using quality ingredients in those frozen treats is important to pet health. “Just like the daily food that pet owners feed their dogs, treats of all kinds are an important part of proactively maintaining a healthy and happy best friend,” she said. “Look for treats that include all-natural ingredients specifically for pets. If you are going to make your own they should be low sodium and low fat and not contain any human seasonings. We recommend using our frozen raw goat and kefir milk and fish stock for easily creating these treats at home.”
Dogs must also have an area of shade to cool down when they are active outside. Trees, umbrellas and canopies work but pet owners also must be aware of what is under their paws. Asphalt and even certain decking can be very hot on their paws and cause them to experience higher temperatures than what the weather man called for. While taking dogs for walks, be sure to have them on cooler surfaces such as grass and use paw balm for their pads to help prevent and repair any damage from standing on warm surfaces.
“The best approach to preventing damage to paws and their pads is to keep away from hot surfaces,” said Shupe. “Paw balms are also a good way to keep paws in good condition when fur-babies are treading on hot, cold or rough surfaces as it creates a protective barrier so active dogs can stay active as well as provides added softness and conditioning to prevent dry and cracked pads.”
Proper grooming practices can also help in the fight against summer heat. Some pet owners assume the less hair the better, but it is not always best for certain breeds to be shaved down. The undercoats of specific breeds, considered “double coated”, help them to stay cool and allow them to regulate their internal temperature. Cutting that coat can actually reverse the effects that owners are trying to achieve causing their pet to overheat, easily sunburn and be exposed to pests. Grooming experts can help you with what is best for the specific breed and size of different dogs. Dogs with short hair can also use pet-specific sunscreen to help prevent damage from the sun.
“Pets cannot use human sunscreen so be sure that the product is specifically manufactured for animals,” said Shupe. “Sun damage in pets can be just as harmful as it is in humans.”
Although awareness about the dangers of dogs overheating in cars has continued to spread, there are still hundreds of dogs that die each year because owners keep them in vehicles. A dog’s age and health can also be a factor in how well they handle extreme temperatures. When the outside temperature is just 70 degrees, a car can heat up to 89 degrees in a matter of only 10 minutes, and to 104 in 30 minutes. At 80 degrees outside, a car can heat up to 99 degrees inside a vehicle in 10 minutes and 114 in 30 minutes.
As the long days of summer continue, make sure your family, including the four-legged members, are safe from the harmful effects of too much heat. If pet owners notice rapid panting, a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, thick and sticky saliva or vomiting they should contact their local veterinarian to discuss.
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