By Nicole Abrego

Beach days, pool parties, warm breezy nights, the summer season is upon us in beautiful Encinitas! With warmer weather heading our way, we need to take caution when it comes to our furry companions. Hot temps can get unpleasant for us humans, which means that they can feel even worse for our pets and could put them at risk of serious health issues. Here are tips on how to keep your pet cool this summer season.

Stay Hydrated:

Planning a day out in the sun with your pet? Pack plenty of cold, fresh water! Pets can dehydrate quickly in hot, humid weather, so keeping them hydrated can help reduce the risk of heat stroke. Ideally, pets should be kept indoors during the summer as much as possible, especially during the mid-daytime hours where the temps peak.

If your pet is outside, provide them with plenty of shade and cold clean water (adding ice cubes whenever possible). You can also try making some DIY cold treats that Fido and Fluffy can enjoy during the warm days.

Never Leave Pets Alone in Cars:

This should be a no-brainer but seriously, NEVER leave your pets alone in a parked vehicle. Even on a 78 degree summer day, temps inside a parked car can reach 90 degrees if parked in the shade and up to 160 degrees in direct sunlight within minutes. This could greatly endanger your pet and could lead to heat stroke or even death. Not to mention, leaving a pet alone in a parked car is illegal in most states. If you are traveling around with your pet, be sure to take your pet with you when you exit your vehicle and provide them with plenty of shade and cold water when venturing outside.

Parasite Control:

Summer brings many things like BBQs and fun family outings, unfortunately disease-carrying parasites like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are some of them. Fleas and ticks can cause a variety of health issues for your pet, which include skin irritation, itching, rashes and skin infections and the potential transferring of diseases. Mosquitoes are transmitters of heartworm disease, which can lead to serious health issues and can potentially be fatal.

The Drake Center veterinarians recommend using Sentinel as a year-round parasite prevention treatment. Sentinel prevents flea eggs and larvae from developing, preventing flea infestations in your home and environment. Sentinel also provides protection against heartworm, whipworms, roundworms, and hookworm. We also recommend using Bravecto to protect against ticks and adult fleas for up to 3 months. During the peak flea and tick seasons, using Bravecto and Sentinel will help provide optimum parasite control. Of course, each pet is different and so to help ensure that your pet is placed on the right preventative care plan, we recommend your pet to be seen by one of our veterinarians.

Watch the Pavement:

The blazing summer sun can warm up the asphalt rather quickly, which can become quite uncomfortable for your pet. Don’t let your pet linger on the pavement for too long as the hot pavement could burn your pet’s sensitive paw pads. Being lower to the ground can also cause your pet to heat up quickly and put them at greater risk of overheating.

You can check the temperature of the pavement by placing the back of your hand on the walking surface for about 10 seconds. If the surface temperature is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. This goes for various walking surfaces such as dirt, gravel, asphalt, rocks, and sand at the beach. Try to plan walks and outings during the cooler times of the day, such as the early morning and evening. Not only will the temps be a lot more comfortable for your pet, it will also be cooler for you as well!

Know the Symptoms of Overheating:

As outdoor temps rise, so does the risk of heatstroke for your pet. Knowing the signs of heatstroke is crucial, as heatstroke can be potentially fatal if not treated immediately.

Signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Glazed eyes
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

Certain breeds of pets, such as “flat-faced” breeds like Persian cats, Pugs, Shih tzus, and other breeds are more susceptible to heatstroke due to having a difficult time breathing during extremely hot days. Very young pets, senior pets, pets who are overweight, and pets with pre-existing heart or respiratory disease are also at greater risk of heatstroke and should be kept indoors at a comfortable temperature during extreme heat.

If your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a shaded and if possible air-conditioned area. Use ice packs or cold towels and place them on the pet’s head, neck, and chest. Give the pet cool water or ice cubes and immediately take them to your veterinarian.

Summertime is the season for fun in the sun, but proper warm weather safety is the key to avoid unexpected trips to the vet. To ensure that your pet is ready for the summer, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian or contact us today.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.