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The sun can be as harmful as the cold and pet owners should be well aware of these risks and how to prevent their pets from suffering heat stroke, sun burn, and heat exhaustion.

Dogs Fur

When winter rolls around and temperatures fall near or below freezing, we are very quick to ensure that our pets are protected from the cold.  However, many pet owners aren’t aware of the risks to their pets from the heat and sun.  

Pet owners of dogs that have thick fur are quick to have their dogs groomed; they have their fur shaven completely off thinking this will keep them cool when in fact, this may be more harmful than good; especially if the dog is an outside dog and doesn’t get adequate shade and protection from the sun.  The dog can get sun burned and get hyperthermia, meaning his body temperature will rise and cause him to have heat stroke or heat exhaustion. 

A dog’s fur is a natural protector against harmful sun rays; when sheering this fur you are taking away his protection.  White furred dogs are also more susceptible to sunburn and should have adequate shade and protection.  The fur is an insulator; it not only helps keep them warm, it also helps keep the cool.  When a dog pants, he is cooling himself and his fur is insulating that cooling system.

Walking Your Dog

In the summer time it is best to walk your dog in the early morning and late evenings so your dog won’t get too over-heated.  The heat and humidity affects your animals just as it does you.  If it’s too hot for you to go for a walk, chances are it’s too hot for your dog to go for a walk as well.  The same rule applies if you are taking your dog to the park to play; most dogs whom are willing to play no matter the season, will get over-heated if you are playing in the hottest part of the day.  The best rule to remember is if it’s too hot for you to play, it’s probably too hot for your dog to play as well. 

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Keep Fresh Cold Water for Your Pets

Your animals need to be hydrated just the same as humans do so it is very important that you keep a good supply of fresh drinking water for your pets at all times.  If your animals are outside pets, make sure the water dish is in a shaded area and is not in danger of getting turned over and spilled.  Check the water dish several times a day to make sure it is still cool and fresh.  Animals need to cool themselves and they do this by keeping hydrated.  You can also add ice cubes to your pet’s drinking water to keep it cool for longer periods of time.  Another tip is to keep 2 liter bottles that soda comes in; fill them with water and freeze them.  At most pet stores you can find water dishes that have a holder for the 2 liter bottles.  First fill the bowl with cool water and then place the frozen bottle of water into the slot on the watering dish.  As the water melts it will continually flow cool water into the bowl. 

Take Your Dog Swimming

Some dogs naturally take to the water and it is never any trouble to get them to jump in.  Others, however, might need to be coaxed into the water.  Even if they just get their feet wet, this will help to cool them as the pads of their feet as areas that help to cool your pet down.  Many dog owners will buy small child size pools for their dogs to lay in and play in; while some dog owners will turn on the sprinkler for them to run through.  Keeping your dog cool is very important; be creative and make it a game for your dog so he will continue to enjoy playing the game while you are helping him to keep cool from the heat of the summer sun.  

Keeping a Cool Cat

Unlike dogs, cats aren’t too thrilled with the prospect of water unless it is to drink.  I do not suggest you try putting your cat in a pool of water; not because it will harm the cat, but because you will most likely end up with a great many scratches; take it from somebody whom has the scars to prove this.

Cats have an advantage that dogs don’t have; they can climb into trees, get into small spaces, and many cats have the luxury of getting to go inside and outside.  But you have to consider your cats that are strictly outside cats; just because they can climb and get to cool areas doesn’t mean they can’t get too hot.  You should always leave them a fresh supply of water each day and on days that it is very hot you should replenish the water bowl a few times during the day.  One should never just assume your cat is fine out in the high heat of the day just because they can find shade easier than a dog can; cats are just as prone to heat exhaustion as dogs are.  If you have outside cats make sure you have a cool place for them to get to, replenish their supply of cool water at least twice a day, and watch for any signs of hyperthermia.  Signs of hyperthermia in cats are generally the same as with dogs; they will be lethargic, have bloody diarrhea, and their body temperature will be high.  The normal body temperature of a cat is between 100-102 degrees; you can take your cat’s temperature rectally with a normal rectal thermometer or a digital thermometer. 

Treating Your Pet if He Gets Too Hot

Animals that have become over-heated and have heat stroke or heat exhaustion will be lethargic, may have very loose, bloody diarrhea, and will be hot to the touch.  You should immediately begin cooling them off by rubbing them down with cool water; especially the pads of their feet and genital areas and take them immediately to the veterinarian.  They will need to be rehydrated intravenously and will probably have to spend a few days at the animal hospital.  A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101-102 degrees; if your dog’s body temperature exceeds that, he is in danger of permanent damage and or death.  You can take your dog’s body temperature with a normal digital or glass thermometer inserting it into the anus of the dog for approximately 2 or 3 minutes. 

If you must have your outside dog on a chain, be very sure there is nothing that the chain can get tangled around preventing your dog from getting shade or to his drinking water.  It doesn’t take long for a dog to get over-heated and you must take proper precautions to prevent your pets from the effects of the hot summer sun. 

All Pets; Large and Small

No matter what kind of pet you have, be it a dog, cat, horse, rabbits, or rodent type pets, you should always be aware of the specific needs each type of pets has.  Different animals need different types of treatments so before you become a pet owner, always know your pet’s specific needs.    

  • dogs.about.com/cs/disableddogs/f/temperature.htm
  • www.associatedcontent.com/article/750015/tips_to_help_protect_your_pets_from.html?cat=53
  • www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=0&aid=1166