Summer Fun...Keep in it Cool!

Summer is here and with it comes an increase of outdoor activities for you and your pet companion. It is important to understand, that while pets will be willing participants in all of the outdoor fun, their ability to “cool down” differs from humans in that they don’t sweat during this process, and mostly use “panting” as their cooling technique. This is a hard process for them and with many breeds, it is highly inefficient. It’s important to recognize when your pet is overexerted, because they most likely would prefer to continue playing, than to stop. They will stop when they absolutely can’t go anymore, but this makes the lapse of time between fun time and heatstroke short and crucial.

Some signs that your pet is getting to a point where you might want to give it a rest include: 1. Panting: the dog will look like it is taking deep, quick breaths. This is a normal cool down technique, but it is the first sign that your dog might be getting to a stopping point. 2. “Hunting for shade”: This is very common during hot, sunny days. 3. The tongue: when a dog is getting hot the tongue comes out, and it starts getting dryer and “whiter”. That is there response to dehydration. Get them some water!

There are steps you can take to make it safe for your pet to enjoy the outdoors during the “dog days of summer”: 1. Work up their stamina: make exercising part of their routine and ramp up their activity level. 2. Pick cooler times during the day to play outside (morning or afternoon). 3. Have fresh water available for your pet to drink during play time. 4. Have an “oasis” available for your pet to cool down. This could be as simple as a hose to get wet, or a plastic kiddie pool they can use to cool down.

Remember, if your pet is panting excessively or becomes lame and inactive, you may want to contact your veterinarian, as heatstroke can be a serious condition.

Get out and enjoy the summer with your pets, but remember to keep them cool…and I don’t just mean with the fancy “doggie” sunglasses!