Understanding a pet's special needs in the hot weather is important
Lorrie Shaw | Contributor
One phrase that won't be misplaced this week is, "Is it hot enough for you?"
You have to be smart about this weather, and with the hot temperatures that are here this week, it's no wonder: Heat stress can take hold quickly, especially in those who are prone to heat related illness.
Have you thought about the impact on pets?
Yes, pets feel the effects of the hot weather, just as we do. A good rule of thumb: If you are uncomfortable, so are your pets.
The hot weather can affect the well-being of pets equally as it does humans — especially young ones, sick ones and, especially, senior pets.
And let's be honest. Some dogs are not well-suited to hot climates. Some thrive in cool climates and have a much more difficult time tolerating summer temperatures.
The geographic mobility that some breeds have attained due to our affinity for them has worked much to their detriment, and being mindful of their special needs should be in the forefront of owners' minds, especially where the weather is concerned.
Some breeds, like Labrador retrievers and Border Collies, are genetically predisposed to conditions that are exacerbated by the heat, like Exercise Induced Collapse and Border Collie Collapse, respectively. Read about them both here.
All dogs are not created equal, certainly, but they all need special consideration in the hot, humid weather.
Here are as few tips to keep in mind:
Provide adequate shelter and limit activity
Just like humans, pets require proper shelter from the sun. I frequently hear: "Oh, dogs are meant to be outdoors, they know what to do." It's true, they do!
They are smart enough to seek refuge in shady spots or a sheltered area. They typically take siestas when the temperatures are at their highest, to allow their bodies to stay cool.
If at all possible, keep them indoors in the air conditioning. If you must keep your pets outdoors, be sure that they are sheltered from the sun and in a secure place.
If you exercise your pets, do so in the morning when the effects of the heat are at their lowest, and take things slowly! The onset of heat stroke can happen quickly, even in healthy pets.
By clicking here, you can read about how to identify the signs of heat stroke, and what to do in the event that it happens to a pet.
Keep activity on the streets safe
Don't let your pooch linger on hot concrete or asphalt. Because they are so close the ground, your pet's body heats up quickly, and paw pads can burn as they are sensitive.
When I'm walking clients, I always walk them on the grass. (Use care to check for signs that a lawn has been freshly fertilized or treated with pesticides and avoid those areas.)
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your pet, every day. We keep bowls inside, of course, and also set fresh bowls outside each morning while our dogs play so that they can drink at their leisure.
Don't leave your pets in the car
Temperatures can rise quickly in a parked car. I typically don't transport my pets in the car if the temperature is over 75 degrees. Before you scoff, think of this: Temperatures inside a parked car rapidly climb to more than 100 degrees and can cause death sometimes in just a few minutes.
It is hard to look at them and say no, but it's for your furry companion's own good. Even if you have air conditioning in your vehicle, keep in mind that anything could happen — your vehicle could break down, you could get into an accident and be stuck out in the harsh elements.
One word to the wise: There is no such thing as an errand that takes just a few minutes, and by clicking here you can see just how hot it gets inside of a vehicle — even if it's parked in the shade.
Don't forget the sunscreen
Pets get sunburn, too. Read more here.
Know the signs of overheating
It's difficult especially for pets with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats — they can't pant as efficiently so extra care needs to be taken. Pets with lung or heart disease need to be treated with special attention, too. Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA vice president of veterinary outreach explains, here.
If you suspect that your pet is experiencing difficulty, get it to a veterinary care professional immediately.
Lorrie Shaw is leads the pets section for AnnArbor.com and writes about pet health, behavior, pet culture and more. She is aprofessional dog walker and pet sitter serving the Ann Arbor area. Email her directly.