No Hot Spot: Tips for Your Pet’s Summer Health

May is pet safety awareness month!

As the summer sunshine starts to heat up and protective measures become a must for you, don’t forget to take the same steps when it comes to your furry friends.

The changes you need to make to your pet’s routine for summer heat may seem obvious, but ensuring his safety actually goes far beyond leaving out a water bowl.

Camp Bow Wow pet boarding service, with a location in Cary, shares these summer safety tips:

  • DO leave out fresh water for your pet, but DON’T let it sit all day. The high heat can cause bacteria to grow that will easily send your pet to the vet, so change that water often.
  • Also, DON’T use metal water bowls. They act as little solar panels that quickly heat the water in the sun!
  • DO slather sunscreen on your pets! Cats and dogs with light skin and hair are more susceptible to burns, which lead to a higher skin cancer risk.
  • DON’T use most pet-specific sunscreens, which may contain chemicals that can harm your pets if ingested. DO stick to natural, human-safe sunscreen without zinc oxide, and make sure to get the lips, inside the ears if they stand up, inside the nostrils and the tip of the nose.

“Burns on the pads of pets’ feet are also common in the summertime when they are walking on hot surfaces,” said Erin Askeland, training manager at Camp Bow Wow. “You can do a touch check by placing your hand flat on the ground. If you’re unable to hold it there due to the heat, then it’s too hot for your pet’s feet!”

For dogs, heat stroke is one of the most common, and dangerous, side effects of warm weather.

According to Dr. John Hamil, a vet who works closely with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, anything above the normal body temp of 101.5 degrees is dangerous. If your dog’s temp reaches 103 degrees or above, he needs to be taken to the vet immediately.

To avoid heatstroke:

  • DO make sure to exercise outdoors with your dog in the summer but DON’T do it at the hottest afternoon times, to keep you both safe!
  • DO get your dog a fresh summer haircut, but DON’T go any shorter than one inch or hair will lose its natural ability to keep him cool. Skip the haircut for dogs with double coats, like huskies and corgis, and brush them instead. These dogs need their hair to be able to cool at all, and shaving can permanently damage their coats.
  • DO keep a lookout for signs of heatstroke in your pet, which include excessive panting, staring, anxious facial expressions, vomiting, collapse and refusal to respond to you.
  • DO immediately wrap your pet with cool, water-soaked towels if you notice these symptoms, and DO take your pet to the vet, because even if you  cool him  down, the chances of that temp skyrocketing again, or of overcooling, are high.

New Pet Hotline

Darci VanderSlik, spokesperson for SPCA of Wake County, agrees with these tips. But your own pet isn’t the only one you should have your eye out for this summer, she adds.

If you see another pet struggling with heat, VanderSlik says DO something.

“You are that animal’s only voice,” she said. “Speak up for that animal. Don’t be ashamed to ask the human to help that animal because they can’t speak for themselves.

“The number to call if you see a dog tied up without access to water or shade is 1-(855)-290-6915. That’s a new animal cruelty hotline run by the Department of Justice. They will distribute the calls to law enforcement in  the area of the animal in distress.”

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