Help Your Pets Beat the Heat This Summer

| June 9, 2023

The first day of Summer is almost here! As we plan to load up on sunscreen, soak up the sun, and stay extra hydrated, as pet parents we also have to plan for the risks to animals.   

To help you make the most of this summer, here are some summer safety tips to make sure your pets stay healthy and comfortable when the temperatures are at their peak. 

Always Have Water

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. 

Know the Signs of Overheating and How to Help

If you plan on being outdoors with your dog on a hot day, make sure you know the signs of heat stroke. This is especially true if you have a puppy or a senior dog, or if your pets aren’t used to exercising for long periods of time. You have to be even more careful if your dog has a respiratory or a heart problem. When in doubt, wait until the temperature cools off a bit before you take your dog out for a walk.  

Watch for the signs and symptoms of heat stroke—excessive panting, muscle twitching, an anxious or dazed look, vomiting, lethargy, increased drooling, and diarrhea (from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association).

Heat stroke is an emergency. Move your pet to a cool and shaded area right away. Provide them with cool, not freezing cold, water. If you have a fan, direct the fan to them. Then, with a cool, damp towel, wet their coat and put a fan on them (if available). Take them to your veterinarian immediately. Severe untreated heat stroke can be fatal.  

Different Breeds React to Heat Differently

Brachycephalic animals, or animals with flat faces such as Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible. 

Never Leave Your Animals Alone in a Parked Vehicle

Year after year, we see heartbreaking stories of animals dying of heat exhaustion after being left in parked cars. Despite repeated warnings from veterinarians and police, the problem persists throughout Ontario. 

If you find an unsupervised animal in a car, follow these steps:  

  • Call 1-833-9ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625) or call the local police.
  • In the meantime, record the time you found the dog and take down the license plate and car information. You might need these details. Then try to locate the owner. Remain calm. Being confrontational does not help anyone, including the animal.
  • Keep calm and assess the situation. Check for signs of overheating—excessive panting, glazed eyes, fatigue, a dazed look (like they appear to be “out of it”), or vomiting. If the animal is unresponsive to your approach, they could be suffering from heatstroke.  

Do Not Leave Pets Unsupervised Around a Pool 

Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur. Try to keep your dog from drinking pool water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals. 

Outdoor Celebrations

Summer is the time of year where friends and family routinely gather to have a good time outside. This means barbecues, fireworks and, in many cases, the consumption of adult beverages. All of these can be hazardous to pets. 

The types of foods and drinks that are usually served at backyard barbecues can be harmful to your dog as well. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and products with the sweetener xylitol. Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables that pets can consume. 

Save the Shave

Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog.  The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals. 

Lawn Care

Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products, and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance. 

Most of us are aware of how susceptible pets are to the unforgiving humidity this region has to offer but it’s important to share the word on social media or with your pet-loving friends and family for those who may not know. These tips can help save lives!