By Erica Radhakrishnan


Summer quickly approaches and daydreams of lounging poolside with a refreshing sweet tea in hand will quickly become a reality.  Unfortunately, warmer weather may not be as appealing to our furry pets.  Limited sweat ability and a thick, fur coat require us to pay special attention to our pets in hotter temperatures.  Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe and cool in the dog days of summer.

1. Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle even with the windows cracked.
Within 30 minutes, on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car will rise to 104 degrees.  Exposure at this temperature can cause heat stroke and lead to death.
2. It is best to keep your pet indoors in an air-conditioned environment when temperatures rise.  However, if you must keep your pet outside on a hot day, be sure to provide them enough shade and cool, clean water. 
Shade always needs to be available regardless of the time of day and position of the sun.
A wet towel or kiddie pool is a great option to allow your pet to cool off.
Place equal parts water and ice cubes in their water bowl.  This will keep the water cold longer throughout the day and allow your pet to cool from the inside out.
To prevent the risk of dehydration because your pet knocked over their water dish, dig a hole deep enough to insert a bucket and fill as described above.
Be sure to provide an elevated spot for your pet to relax.  This will protect them from the heat absorbed on solid surfaces like dirt, asphalt, or concrete.
3. Do not walk your pet in the heat of the day and avoid asphalt, as their paws can burn.  
The best option is to walk your pet early in the morning or after the sun goes down, preferably on the grass.
If this is not possible and your dog will tolerate them, you can cover their paws with protective booties while walking on hot surfaces.  However, it is important to know that dogs sweat through their paw pads.  Therefore, if you need to use protective booties to walk on a hot surface, do not take your pet for a long walk.  Remove the booties immediately.  Offer your pet water and get them in a cool environment when done walking.
4. Be sure to keep open windows screened.  
Cats and curious canines love open windows and windowsills.  Screened windows may prevent accidental falls and injury. 

It is important to know that both older and young pets are at greater risk for heat stroke, as well as, short-muzzled dogs such as pugs, Boston terriers, and shih tzus.  If you notice that your pet is panting excessively, drooling thick saliva, weak, has a rapid heart rate, or simply has collapsed, seek emergency veterinary care immediately. On a hot day, these signs may indicate that your pet is experiencing heat stroke.   As a reference, normal temperature for dogs and cats ranges from 100-102.5 degrees.  A temperature greater than 102.5 indicates a fever and a temperature in the range of 103-105 is a serious medical problem.  A temperature of 105 or greater is life threatening and requires immediate cooling of your pet and medical attention.  
Following these easy tips will help you and your pet enjoy the warm days of summer – so bring on the sunshine!