Summer vacation is a great time to spend with family, friends and especially your pets. The only drawback can be the warm weather in certain climates. We have prepared some suggestions on how to keep your pets cool this season and how to possibly avoid dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke. We hope this information is helpful to you and you enjoy this season of fun in the sun!
Long car trips or even short rides to the store are always fun for your pets, especially dogs. However, on hot days, cars are magnets for the sun and can be hazardous to your pet's health. Air conditioning on in the car at all times can help to keep you and your pets cool and a bowl of water on the floor of the car can assist in your pet's hydration levels.
We strongly advise NOT leaving pets in a car without a human with them with the air conditioning on. There have been too many stories each year of pets left in parked cars, even for a few minutes with very sad endings with pets dying of heat stroke by the time the owner returns. If you see a pet in a parked car with no sign of ventilation, if you do not see the owner within one minute or less, we advise calling the police as soon as possible as time is not on our sides in this situation. Better to deal with an angry owner than a pet who has passed away.
Pets and Dehydration
Dehydration in pets can be a serious matter. Whether caused by illness, exposure to heat, or a simple lack of fluid intake, dehydration must be addressed immediately and, left untreated, can cause multiple health problems including organ failure and death. It is very easy for a pet to become dehydrated; easier than many pet owners realize. Fortunately it is also easy to prevent dehydration in pets and it is very important to do so.
Dehydration is an excess loss of bodily fluids. It most often involves the loss of water and minerals such as sodium, chloride, and potassium; collectively called electrolytes. Dehydration in pets can be caused by illness (especially if the pet has a fever), exposure to extreme heat, and a number of other factors. A pet’s natural act of panting causes a loss of fluids and can result in dehydration if they are not replaced.
Other pets get lethargic and may appear to be sleeping, but it is important to keep an eye on them during hot days. Remember that pets lack sweat glands to keep them cool. They can pant in an effort to regulate their body temperature. A panting pet is a hot pet.
Preventing Pet Dehydration
The best way to prevent dehydration is to make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water available. The pet should always have at least one full bowl of water available at all times and, if the pet has the run of the house, bowls in various locations may be appropriate. If you live in a dry climate dogs should be kept indoors as much as possible, especially in the hot summer months. When they are outdoors it is imperative that pets have an available supply of fresh water. Moist foods also help maintain appropriate levels of bodily fluids in pets.
A small plastic child size pool can also help with your pets at home, or bring it with you camping or on a trip. The cool water helps keep them hydrated. If you have a normal in ground pool, all the better for dogs or other animals who may like them. It is important to always supervise a pet being in any body of water for safety reasons.
Plenty of shade at home and on trips can help create lower temperatures as well as less chance of sunburn for those pets who have less fur or hair to protect them. A "golf" umbrella, free standing umbrella or tarp can help keep them cooler in the bright sun.
Treating a Dehydrated Pet
If you suspect that your dog is dehydrated, get it some water immediately and then get it to the vet. Signs of dehydration can include a lack of elasticity to the skin, dry and sunken eyes, and a dry mouth and nose. Dehydrated dogs in particular will also experience a delay in capillary refill time. To test for this, pull the dog’s lip away from its gum (gently) and press a finger against the gum until the area whitens. Release your finger and the color should return to the area almost immediately. A delay could be an indication of dehydration.
Lots of water is the best way to replace fluids, but a severely dehydrated pet should not be allowed to take in large amounts at once. This will result in vomiting and a further loss of fluids. Instead let the pet drink small amounts over a period of time. Electrolytes can be replaced with a hydrating solution. Pedialyte, a water and electrolyte product sold for infants is suitable for dogs as well. Of course any pet that seems dehydrated or refuses to drink should be seen by a vet to determine appropriate treatment and whether the dehydration is a symptom of some other ailment.
We hope these tips and information help you this Summer Season keep your pets cool and healthy. We would love to see photos of your pets with you during your vacations so please, feel free to post them below or email them to us! As always, please comment below with any tips or tricks you have on the subject! Happy Summer!