Safety should be considered in everything that is done each and every day. Safety concerns should be extended to all members of the family, including ones pets.
In the hot summer months, it is important to take all due care and consideration for the family pets.
Dr. Andrew Hodges with Sylvan Lake Veterinary Vlinic says pet owners should be more cautious once the temperature reaches a balmy 24 C.
“Once we reach temperatures of 24 C and over we need to be really cognizant of how our pets are doing,” said Hodges.
Hodges says it is at the 24 C mark that risk of heat exhaustion begins.
He says heat exhaustion in dogs is usually due to excessive exposure to heat without proper due care.
A symptom of heat stroke in dogs is often excessive panting, which is how a dogs cools its self, and signs of discomfort, this may include vomiting or drooling, fatigue, difficulty breathing, diarrhea or seizures.
“It is really the same process humans go through. The body reaches a point where it simply can’t cool itself anymore,” said Hodges.
When an animal has heat stroke things can go from bad to worse very quickly.
If left unchecked heat exhaustion could be fatal.
“It is very important to seek medical help as soon as a pet owner suspects heat stroke,” Hodges said.
Hodges says keeping a close eye on your pets when the temperatures begin to rise is very important for certain breeds of dogs.
There are some with airway diseases and breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Shi Tzus, with shortened faces that are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Hodges says it is less common for dog breeds that are known as “working dogs”, but these types of dogs – Labradors and Springer Spaniels for example – do have a thicker fur and should still be monitored when the temperature rises.
“For the most part dogs are pretty good at regulating themselves, but we should be cognizant of their behaviour and help as we can.”
Hodges suggests ensuring there is always access to water for your pets on hot days.
Whether it is a bowl of water in the backyard or extra water while out and about, having access to water is one of the most important things.
“It is summer so a lot of people like to take their dogs out with them during their summer activities. That’s great, but make sure they have enough water, just like you,” Hodges said.
Hodges recommends having a separate water bottle ready for pets when taking them out and about in the summer.
It is possible to get water bottles especially made for pets. These have special dispensers to make it easy for them to drink.
Fresh water is important in the battle to staying cool. Though, Hodges says if a dogs is running in and out of the lake all day it will be much cooler naturally.
Another tip suggested by Hodges is to have a kiddie pool set up in the backyard.
“You would be surprised what a difference a kiddie pool makes to a pet,” he said.
A kiddie pool will allow your pet to cool down as it needs to in the shallow waters of the pool.
Another way to keep pets cool in the summer is to have access to shade while outside.
Hodges also recommends checking the temperature of sidewalks before taking pets for a walk.
This is especially important on a blacktop as it will retain more heat from the sun.
“Check the sidewalk with the back of you hand, if it feels hot, then it will be too hot for your pets paws.”
When taking pets in vehicles it is also important to keep an eye on them there.
A vehicle retains heat and is often hotter inside than outside.
When taking a pet in a vehicle it is suggested to keep them well ventilated by placing it in a wired cage or in an open basket.
It is never suggested to leave a pet unattended in a parked vehicle with the windows rolled up.
“Really think about if you need to take your pet with you in the vehicle,” said Hodges. “If it isn’t necessary keep them at home where it is cool.”
If you believe your pet may have heat stroke it is important to seek medical attention immediately.