Maine is a state that experiences a wide variety of weather and temperature changes with each passing season, sometimes even within a day! With warmer temperatures finally here, we often find ourselves soaking up the sun with trips to the lake or ocean, hiking the many miles of trails that our beautiful state has to offer, or perhaps playing “tourist” for a day and venturing out to a local fair or festival (Rockland’s Lobster Festival is right around the corner!). Many times we like to include our pets in all the fun that summer has to offer, but before you plan your summer adventures it’s important to first make sure that your pet has a safe and positive experience.
Your pet’s chances of heatstroke greatly increase the warmer the temperature is outside. If not dealt with quickly, your pet can suffer from irreversible damage to their kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. Heatstroke can also unfortunately result in death, fortunately it is completely preventable! Below are some tips to help you keep your pets safe and healthy this summer season.
- Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh drinking water and a cool shaded area to rest. On hot, humid days it’s best to keep your pets inside, especially if temperatures reach 90°F or higher.
- Wait to exercise or play with your dog when temperatures are cooler. First thing in the morning or at the end of the day is optimal for outside play! Hot pavement is painful for your dog to walk on and can burn the sensitive pads of their feet. Do the "HOT PAWS TEST" by placing the back of your hand on the pavement, if its too hot to hold there for 5 seconds, it's too hot for PAWS!
- Regardless of the time of day, make sure to limit your pet’s playtime outside. Our pets will pant as a means to regulate and cool their core temperatures down. If your dog or cat is panting heavily and rapidly, it’s important to find them a cool place to rest out of direct sunlight and to offer them fresh cool (not cold!) drinking water.
- NEVER leave a pet alone in a parked vehicle. On an 85°F day it takes as little as 10 minutes for the interior of your car to reach 102°F, even if parked in the shade with your windows slightly open. If you plan on spending an afternoon shopping or visiting a festival, it’s best to leave your pet home.
If your pet is exhibiting any of the following signs of overheating, it’s important that you act quickly to ensure their safety. Some common symptoms include: excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, elevated body temperature (anything over 104°F), diarrhea and vomiting, weakness, seizures, staggering or stumbling. Pet’s that are older, overweight, have a heart or lung condition, or are flat faced (ie: Pugs, French bulldogs, Persians, etc.) are at a higher risk of overheating and should be kept inside most days during the summer.
If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them into a shaded area and apply cool (not cold!) water to their inner thighs and stomach. Do not fully submerge their body in water or wrap them in a wet towel. If their core temperature cools too quickly, it can lead to further complications such as cardiac arrest or bloating. Try to encourage your pet to stand or walk slowly to help circulate their blood flow during the cooling process. You can also allow your pet to drink small amounts of cool water. Do not allow them to rapidly gulp water, this can cause vomiting or bloat. If your pet refuses to drink water, try offering them some chicken or beef based bone broths such as Primal Bone Broth.
After you have managed to cool your pet down, it is important that you bring them to your veterinarian as soon as possible for an examination, even if your pet seems to have made a full recovery. Your pet is still at risk for health issues up to 72 hours after suffering from heatstroke. It’s important that your veterinarian check their kidneys and liver to ensure that they are still functioning properly.
For more tips on how to make sure your pets stay safe this summer, please stop by any of our locations and ask one of our sales associates for more summer tips!