Tips for Surviving the Dog Days of Summer

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With record-breaking heat scorching much of the country, it seems that the "dog days of summer" are upon us. The ASPCA recommends the following tips to keep your pet safe during the hot weeks ahead!

  • Made in the Shade. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it's hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise, and keep pets indoors when it's extremely hot.
  • Know the Warning Signs. Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • No Parking! Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. "On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—and could lead to fatal heat stroke," says Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.
  • Make a Safe Splash. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices on boats. Rinse off your dog after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
  • Screen Test. "During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets—mostly cats—fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured," says Dr. Murray. "Pet owners need to know that these accidents are completely preventable if they take simple precautions." Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are secured tightly.
  • Summer Style. Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog; the layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
  • Street Smarts. When the temperature is very high, don't let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your pooch's body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks to a minimum during these times.

By keeping your pet's safety and comfort in mind, you and your pet can enjoy the dog days of summer together!