Unlike humans, pets do not have the ability to cool their bodies in the way that humans do. Dogs use their respiratory tract to lose heat, and sweat less on their hair covered bodies. This is the reason that cats and dogs pant when they are hot. Some heat is also lost through their paw pads. When heat gets trapped inside of their bodies, they can then experience hyperthermia – this is when the core body temperature becomes dangerously elevated.
What Temperature Is Too Hot?
A normal body temperature for cats and dogs is just a bit higher than it is for humans, ranging from about 100 degrees to 102.5 degrees. Various degrees of activity will increase this temperature. Once it is raised to 106 degrees, heat stroke can occur and will cause many problems, including death.
Protecting Your Pet’s Skin
Though not widely known, skin cancer is very common in both cats and dogs. Their fur does provide some protection from the sun, but you should also apply a sunblock made for pets every 3 to 4 hours on their parts that are not fully covered by hair like their bellies and around their ears.
It may seem logical to cut your pet’s hair in the summer, but you must resist. When their hair is brushed out and not matted, it actually provides air circulation for them to regulate their body temperature. If your pet does end up getting burned somehow, you can soothe it by applying a thin layer of aloe vera on the area two times a day.
Keeping Your Pet Cool
Make sure that you save walks with your dog for the times that are not the hottest. This means avoiding times when the day usually has the highest temperatures and humidity. Do note that dogs like bulldogs that have short snouts are not able to pant sufficiently in weather that is humid, thanks to their narrow windpipes and nostrils.
When taking a trip in the car with your pup, never leave them inside of the car alone. Even if the windows are cracked open, the inside temperature of the car can rise by almost 20 degrees in just 7 minutes. Leaving your air conditioner on is important for keeping your pet safe in a car.
Make sure that when you will be gone for several hours that your home will stay cool for your pet. Turn on the air conditioner if you have one, if not, several fans will do. The general rule is that if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet.
Look Out for Heat Exhaustion
Heat stress is signaled by thick drool, bright red or dry gums, heavy panting, wobbly legs, diarrhea, and vomiting. Do not put your pet in cold water, this can send them into shock! Rather, you should move them to a cool place and place a damp towel on their body. Wet the cloth often and take them to their veterinarian as soon as you can.
What to Do While Outside
You should look for an area that is mostly shaded for walking or doing other exercise with your dog. Even when you feel fully able to take on the challenge of a lengthy activity, you should always stop and rest frequently – every 15 minutes is the recommendation. Pets that are less physically fit will need more frequent breaks the hotter and more humid it is.
Get an Exam Before Heading Out for Exercise
Ideally, all pets would be kept healthy enough for physical activity all year. Unfortunately, seasonal factors as well as other deterrents may keep them mostly inside for months at a time. Due to this, there may be a loss of fitness and weight gain. Prior to engaging in activities outside in the hotter months, seek an exam for your dog from your vet. Older and less physically-fit dogs may have underlying issues that can be exacerbated by exercise.