Summer heat and sunshine are serious issues for our dogs and cats, who depend on us to protect them.
For example, did you know dogs and cats can get sunburned? Or that short-nosed dog breeds have more trouble cooling down through panting? Or that shaving your dog’s coat may be more harmful than not? Here are a few tips to consider to keep your pet comfortable in the summer heat.
- Sunburn: Animals need sun protection on their sensitive areas such as the tips of their ears, their noses and other areas exposed to sunlight. Pets with pink skin or light-coloured coats can be vulnerable. Staffordshire Terriers, Boxers, Bull Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers and Chinese Crested are among the breeds prone to sunburn. Apply pet-friendly sunscreen — not zinc oxide-based treatments, which are toxic — about half an hour before exposure.
- Panting is cooling: Dogs and cats mostly eliminate heat through respiration. Short-nosed dog such as Pugs and English Bulldogs tend to be more vulnerable to heat stroke. It's incredibly important for your dog to stay hydrated in warm weather. You should be aware of the signs of overheating. Heat stroke signs include excessive or exaggerated panting, lethargy, weakness, drooling, high fever, dark red gums, rapid heartbeat, unresponsiveness to surroundings and vomiting.
- A Stanford University study showed that regardless of outside temperatures, the temperature inside a car can rise by over 5°C per hour. For this reason, you shouldn't leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes.
- Avoid hot surfaces: Hot pavements, beaches and other surfaces can severely injure your pet’s paw pads. You might be surprised how often vets diagnose this injury. The rule of thumb is simple: If the surface is too hot for you to handle barefoot, it’s too hot for your dog.
- No shaving: A dog's coat insulates them from the heat, so shaving isn't the best strategy. That being said, trimming a long-haired dog’s coat, particularly if it hangs around his legs, is acceptable. Vets suggest that owners should brush their dogs more often in the summertime as well, which can thin out the thick coat and get rid of hair that your pet is shedding.
- Avoid the heat: make sure not to exercise during the hottest parts of the day, and be vigilant about finding shade to rest when the time comes.
If you have any other concerns about caring for your dog during the hottest months, consult a vet who will be able to offer you expert help and advice best suited to your pet.