This month, we wanted to share several approaches that will help your pets endure the “dog days” of summer. This means changing playtime hours, providing greater access to water and shade, and more closely monitoring your pet — particularly those that might be older, overweight, or have existing medical conditions. So, now is the time to begin changing your own behavior to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of your pet.

Change Your Walking and Play Time

Probably the best way to keep your pet healthy and happy is to change the hours when you play outdoors with your pet. With the hot summer sun, it’s best to walk or run with your dog before the sun rises or after if begins setting. A few degrees can make a tremendous difference in your pet’s ability to regulate their temperature — reducing the risk of heat-related illnesses or health complications. Be sure to carry lots of water for your pet, and during extreme weather conditions such as heat or air quality advisories, it may simply be best to forgo the normal activities.

Summer Fun
But after exercising, ensure your pet has time to gradually cool down and become comfortable before you head off to work, or turn in for the evening. It’s important their respiratory rate returns to normal, there is no excessive salivation, and their behavior does not appear to be agitated or excessively passive. When leaving, your pet should be happy, responsive, and only modestly tired.

On your way out, be sure your pet has plenty of water and your home’s temperature is set between 68 and 75 degrees — so they can continue their cool down.

Leave Your Pet at Home

In many towns, it’s against local or state law to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle — even if the windows are open or the vehicle’s air conditioning is running. Within just a few minutes, the interior temperature of a vehicle can quickly approach 140 degrees, creating a life-threatening environment for your pet. Recall, your pet is covered with fur and they predominately cool themselves by panting. Unlike humans who control body temperature by evaporative sweating, a pet panting in a hot room or vehicle will not enable them to sufficiently reduce their body temperature.

Car Temperature
Please leave your pet at home until fall returns and ensure they have plenty of outdoor shade and indoor cool rooms to enjoy. You’ll avoid tragic accidents, fines and potential heartache — and your pet will thank you.

Make Plenty of Water and Shade Available
During the summer, it’s vital that you keep plenty of water available for your pet — both inside and out. Before leaving your pet, you should replace the water in their bowls with cool, fresh water. You might even consider adding a few ice cubes to extend the “coolness” period. Clean water that is free of dirt, insects and grass/leaves will encourage your pet to drink water when they want or need it. Also, be sure there are at least two bowls within different rooms of your home — and outside. Should one of the bowls spill, they will still be able to rehydrate.

Water Bowl
If your pet is outside during the day, ensure they have plenty of shade as the sun moves across the sky. On very hot or humid days, it may be best to leave your pet within your well ventilated, air-conditioned home.

Monitor Your Pet’s Behavior

During the summer, you should closely watch your pet for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Agitation or signs of discomfort
  • An unwillingness or inability to move
  • Excessive drooling or salivation
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Loss of mental sharpness
  • Loss of consciousness or collapse

If you suspect any of these signs, it’s important that you contact us immediately. You may be requested to soak a towel in cold water and wrap it around your pet, or wet your pet with a hose or shower applying cold water upon their neck and back. In urgent situations, you may be requested to place your pet in the tub — keeping their head out of the cold water.

If your pet wants to drink water, provide them as much cool (not cold) water as they like without forcing them to drink more.

On your way to Kirkwood Animal Hospital, you should turn your vehicle’s air conditioning to maximum and open the windows. And be sure to comfort your pet along the way, talking to and reassuring them.

Contact Us
The summer is a great time for our pets. We generally have longer days and more time to interact with them. But heatstroke is serious as it can cause swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood.

Kirkwood Veterinarians
If you have any questions about how to keep your pet cool — or to cool them down after playing, please contact us immediately.