Keeping pets cool

With temperatures in the Valley reaching triple digits, it’s understandable that many of us will stay inside to escape the blazing sun. However, many of our four-legged friends still need to go outside to get some exercise. With streets and sidewalks scorching hot during the day, it might be tough to figure out how to keep your best friend in shape.

Brian Serbin, DVM, a veterinarian at Ingleside Animal Hospital, stresses that “the best time to exercise your pets is early in the morning or late in the evening.” Serbin recommends that walks and exercise should conclude by 9 a.m., and if a later walk is necessary, your pet should have booties to protect its feet from the hot pavement.

Serbin said that dogs are susceptible to sunburn, and pet-safe sunscreen is available. “Do not shave a dog to keep it cool – hair keeps dogs cool and protects them against sunburn,” he said. 

Serbin also said to have plenty of clean water available at all times during the day and recognize the symptoms of overheating, which include excessive panting or trouble breathing, drooling, weakness, disorientation and collapsing. Although a dog’s internal body temperature is naturally higher than humans, a temperature of 104°F is too high. If a pet shows signs of overheating, veterinary care is recommended.

If your dog overheats, you should first move it to shade or inside, and then drape it in a lukewarm towel to lower its core temperature. Do not use alcohol or cold water. It’s important not to make a dog drink water as it may be too focused on breathing. Continue all cool down procedures until the panting stops and the dog’s temperature is 103°F or less – any further cooling could lead to hypothermia.

Indoor games for pets are also recommended. These games can include tug of war, hiding treats and teaching new tricks. Appropriate chew toys and treats should be soft and not damaging to teeth. Examples of these include rawhides, pig ears, bully sticks, rope bones, Kong toys and dental chews. Toys such as Buster Cubes keep dogs physically and mentally stimulated as they try to work for food and treats.

Also, for those who have pools, swimming is an excellent way for your pet to get exercise during the day and get rid of any extra energy it might have.

As a general reminder, do not leave your pet inside a parked car during the summer as temperatures can reach well over 120°F.

For any questions on how to keep your four-legged companion safe during the summer, contact your veterinarian.