Protecting Your Pet from Dangerous Dog Days of Summer Weather Conditions
Chicago, IL — The dangerous weather conditions known as Dog Days of Summer are returning to Chicago. Pet owners must be aware that their dogs and cats can suffer from the same heat-related problems affecting humans, which include over-heating, dehydration, and even sunburn. Preemptive action taken now can make a difference and help your pet have a safe and enjoyable summer.
According to Chicago Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Rosemarie Niznik: “Young, old, or sick animals are more susceptible to these high heat and humidity conditions. By taking necessary precautions and making adjustments to your pet care routine this week, you may prevent a heat stress or heat stroke medical condition that would warrant a trip to the nearest veterinary emergency clinic. Please call your family veterinarian if you have any additional questions or concerns. Working together, we can keep the pets of Chicago happy, healthy and safe this summer.”
The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association offers the following simple precautions that pet owners and families must take to protect their companion animals from the elements all summer long.
- Always bring plenty of cold water, along with a portable bowl when out with your pet to ensure proper hydration.
- Never leave your pet alone in a vehicle, as overheating can quickly lead to death. Dogs and cats do not sweat like humans; sometimes, they are unable to pant fast enough to cool down. Even with the windows open, or located in the shade, a parked vehicle can quickly become a furnace on a hot day.
- Don’t force your pet to exercise after a meal in hot, humid weather. Try to exercise in the early morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler, and keep long walks to a minimum. Since your pet does not always know to say when, it is up to you to pay careful attention. The minute your dog goes from walking in front of you to lagging behind you, this is usually a sign it has become too exerted and overheated.
- Never leave your dog standing on hot asphalt for long periods of time as the body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads may burn.
- Provide plenty of shade as well as a well-constructed doghouse for a pet that spends time outside. Bring your animal inside during the hottest part of the day and supply plenty of cool water. It is best that cats remain indoors on extremely hot days.
- Offer a cool or air conditioned room for your pet. Old and overweight animals require extra attention in hot weather. Short nosed, large heavy coated breeds, and dogs with heart and/or respiratory problems are at greater risk for heat stroke.
- Maintain a well-groomed pet to prevent summer skin irritations. Shaving a heavy-coated dog’s hair to a one-inch length will help prevent overheating. Cats should be brushed more often in the summer to help thin-out any excess fur. Exercise caution to not to shave the hair all the way down to the skin, as this will remove protection from the sun and can expose your pet to sunburn.
- Watch for any changes in skin color, since pets are not immune from skin cancer.
- Do not take your pet to the beach unless shade and plenty of fresh drinking water are readily available. If swimming in salt water, thoroughly rinse your pet to prevent skin irritation.
With the onslaught of the Dog Days of Summer, preparation is the key with a plan in advance of an emergency by knowing the location of the nearest veterinarian and emergency veterinary medical services. Store the information for your doctor or the emergency clinic in your cell phone and on the refrigerator. If you suspect the slightest problem or discomfort in your pet, call a veterinarian and make an appointment for an exam.