LEXINGTON, Ky. (BeReady)– As the summer heat sets in, it is important to keep pets in mind. Dogs, cats, and even small animals such as rabbits and hamsters can get sick from being exposed to heat for too long. It is also important to know the symptoms for a heat stroke in your pets. Below are some helpful tips for dogs, cats, and small pets to keep them cool during the dog days of summer.
Keep dogs and cats cool:
- ALWAYS have cool water accessible.
- Make frozen treats to help cool your pet off after a long walk.
- Provide a shaded area that fully covers your dog or cat for best protection.
- Be cautious when traveling with your pet on a warm day and NEVER leave them in the vehicle unattended. The temperature in your car can be 20 degrees hotter than it is outside. Dogs or cats left in a heated car for too long can get brain damage, heat stroke, or even die.
- Walk your pet during cooler times of the day such as the early morning or late evening. If you must walk your pet in the heat, consider booties or socks to protect their paws.
- Groom your pet regularly. Shaving your pet might seem like a good idea to keep your pet cool during the hot summer months, but it can ultimately harm them. Fur acts as insulation and protects your pet from the sun. Just like us, pets can get sunburn or skin cancer when in direct sunlight. You can also use pet sunscreen for extra protection around the face.
How to keep small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters) cool:
- Keep them well hydrated.
- Make sure there are shaded areas in their cage and do not put their cage in direct sunlight.
- Reward them with frozen fruits and vegetables as treats.
- If you are traveling with a small animal, again, DON’T leave them in the car by themselves.
- Put a frozen water bottle in their cage so they can lean against it to keep cool.
- If your AC unit is broken, have a fan facing their cage or get a cooling plate for them to lay on.
All of these animals are prone to a heat stroke. Animals with flat faces or short snouts are at a
higher risk of a heat stroke because they do not shows signs of panting. Younger and older pets are at a greater risk as well and need to be monitored more closely.
Here are some helpful ways to identify a heat stroke in a dog, cat, or small animal:
- Excessive panting
- Fainting or dizziness
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Bloody gums
If you notice your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. Keep your pets cool this summer to keep them safe.
Information from the American Red Cross, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and Petco were used for this blog post.