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How to Keep Your Pet Cool in Summer

Posted by: Mira Roberts
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In summer, the tendency to get out and make use of the abundant sunshine and warm weather can be undeniable, for you and your pets. Our neighborhood's close proximity to so many bodies of water, hiking trails, beautiful parks and playgrounds makes it hard not to want to gather up the family and head outdoors as often as possible. Before you pack up your pets and head outside for adventure, remember that the heat can be hard on our furry friends, and without taking proper precautions, even dangerous.

Summer in Coastal Virginia is reaching its peak for heat, humidity and bright sunshine. That means it's time to monitor heat exposure closely and take steps to ensure that your four-legged friends stay cool, comfortable and hydrated. Even if your breed has short hair and a compact frame, they may be susceptible to hyperthermia and dehydration in extreme heat. Here are some tips on how to keep your pet healthy, happy and cool, so you can get back outside and enjoy the season without worries.

Timing is Everything
In extreme heat, temperatures can change dramatically throughout the day, with the peak of heat occurring between 12 pm and 4 pm. Choose to head out for your best friend's favorite walk in the early morning hours or the later evening hours to avoid the sun's highest heat, and avoid outdoor activities of any kind at midday.

Never Leave Your Pet in the Car
When it's hot outside, you may begin to feel guilty leaving your pup inside more often, and choose to bring your pup with you on errands for a bonding car ride. Do not, under any circumstances, leave your pet in the car during times of extreme heat-not even for a moment or two. Even with the windows cracked and the AC running, your car's temperature can reach unsafe and unhealthy temperatures quickly on hot days. If Fido comes with you for a ride, bring him inside with you, as well. 

Seek Shade
If you do feel it is comfortable enough for you and your pup to spend time exploring outdoors, make sure to spend a good portion of time in the shade. Your pet (and you!) will need to take regular breaks in a shady, cool space in order to keep from getting overheated, and spending too much time in the hot sun will become exhausting and potentially harmful. Remember that your pet doesn't wear shoes and the pads of their feet can become burned or injured by walking on extremely hot surfaces. Seek shade and keep your pup safe.

Fluids Are Your Pet's Best Friend
Push fluids and hydratation at all times during hot weeks and months, and make sure that your dog has open access to fresh, cool water to drink throughout the day, whether inside or outside. Don't count on outdoor spaces to provide you with access to water, and plan to bring a clean bowl with cool water (in a cooler, perhaps) to give to your dog, frequently. 

Know What to Watch For
Understanding the signs of heat stroke will help you to act fast if your pet does become ill from exposure to too much heat. Your pet is at a higher risk for heat stroke if he is very old or young, or overweight. You'll want to watch your pet closely during and after outdoor activities for the following signs:

  • heavy panting
  • difficulty breathing
  • glazed eyes
  • rapid heartbeat
  • excessive thirst
  • lethargy
  • dizziness
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • seizure
  • unconsciousness
  • excessive salivation
  • red or purple tongue
  • sudden lack of coordination/altered movements

About the Author
Mira Roberts Gravatar
Mira Roberts

Mira Roberts studied writing at New York University, graduating with a BA in English Literature before pursuing a career in media, marketing and management with PARADE Magazine, Portfolio Magazine, AltDaily, skirt! and lululemon athletica. A full time mother, writing instructor and part-time freelance writer, Mira lives and laughs with her family in Norfolk, VA. 

 

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