Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess
Did you know the term, “Dog Days of Summer” really has nothing to do with dogs? Here is an explanation I found on the dog days phrase: “…It comes from the Dog Star, Sirius, which is part of the constellation Canis Major. Each summer between July and August the constellation appears in the northern hemisphere during what is usually the hottest time of the summer. ” Regardless of the meaning, I know my parents always said it during the hottest, most humid months of the year — July and August in Upstate New York — and it’s that weather that makes me spout off those words!
Pet parents know that during the summer months it’s crucial to pay attention to your pets to make certain they aren’t overheating. Because your dogs can only cool themselves through panting, settling them in front of a fan will not have the same cooling effect on them that it will on you. A cool, shaded or air conditioned room is the best place for your pets.
There are myriad sites that offer great pet safety tips but here is what I have gleaned from my research:
- It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: NEVER leave a pet in a car. I shouldn’t have to insert the word “hot” before car because even on a day that you consider “coolish” the interior of the vehicle will heat up to unbearable temperatures for your pet — even with a window cracked. You are not doing your pet any favors by bringing him or her home while you run errands. If you’re traveling with a pet and you need to take a restroom break you need to find a way, or have made a plan, to take your pet in with you. Add to the heated car danger, what if someone were to break into your car and steal your beloved pet while you left it unattended?
- Your pet does not enjoy (fill in the blank) festivals, fairs, public markets, county fairs, etc. I believe that most people bring their pets to these events simply to show them off. Yes, you have a cute pet, but please leave her home for safety’s sake. Between the noises, the unfamiliar scents, the crowds and the hot pavement or sidewalks you are doing your pet more harm than good. If you’re like most pet parents, you have a smart phone full of pet photos — show them off instead. Don’t subject your pet’s delicate foot pads to hot pavement.
- A day at the beach is not as much fun for your pet as it is for you. Consider how hot the sand is on your feet and then you can understand how painful that same sand will be to your pets’ feet and his belly if he decides to lay down and you will see that it’s best to leave him home while you frolic at the water’s edge. If you’re on a family vacation and simply have no where to leave your pet, make sure you put sunscreen on him when you’re at the beach. Yes, you read that right. According to petMD light-colored and short-haired dogs are prone to sunburn just as their humans are. Ask your veterinarian for advice on non-toxic sunscreens you can use for your pet. You will also need to make sure there is a shaded area your pet can relax in.
- Limit outdoor activities that involve frenetic running! You know that your dog will chase a ball or a frisbee until she drops. Don’t let it come to that. Dehydration and heatstroke are real possibilities during a hot, humid summer day. Limit the activities to the cooler morning or evening hours. Pets that are brachycephalic, those with flat-shaped faces — think, Pugs, Persian cats or Pekingese have a harder time cooling themselves by panting so additional precautions need to be taken to keep these breeds cool in the hot summer months.
- Speaking of dehydration. Make sure your pet’s water dish is full of water at all times. Don’t let it get to the point where the dish is empty and when you fill it, he overindulges — this can lead to bloat and an emergency trip to the vet’s. If you take your pet for a walk, make sure you bring a bowl and fresh water and make frequent stops to give her a sip or two. Signs of dehydration include: dry gums, excessive drooling and loss of skin elasticity.
- Use caution when you’re walking your pet in unfamiliar territory. There are some communities across the country that use non-pet-friendly pesticides and many of those have a sweet flavor that is enticing to your pet. Also, if he walks in pesticide treated grass then licks his fur or feet he will be ingesting the poisons. It’s always best to know where you’re walking your pet before you set out.
- When it comes to cats, the same safety rules apply. They should be always provided access to cool, shaded areas and have access to clean, fresh water at all times. I’ve also read that, even though it may be tempting, you shouldn’t give into the urge to shave your cat’s long fur off for the summer. According to the ASPCA a cat’s hair actually acts as a protective layer. It’s much better to make sure they have access to a cool space and that you brush them to remove excess fur.
Check out this post on 15 pet safety tips for pet parents. What could you add to the list and what do you do to keep your pets cool, happy and healthy during the summer months?
(Photo Shutterstock: Pet In a Fan)