JUST CHILL

Dear Davi,

Holy schmoly, it’s hot outside! Can you give me some tips on keeping my pets cool in the sweltering summer heat?

Sally the Human

Sally,

Florida summers can get ridiculously hot, so providing protection for your pets in hot weather is crucial. Here are some symptoms to look for in your pets — and some advice on taking the heat off so they can stay cool and enjoy summer:

If your dog is unhappy in the heat, he or she may exhibit these signs:

  • Heavy panting
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Resting more often than usual or lagging behind on a walk
  • Vomiting
  • Lifting his paws awkwardly if the ground is too hot
  • Stumbling and disorientation

Things to remember:

  • Dark-furred dogs absorb more sunlight and feel the heat more.
  • Light-furred dogs are more susceptible to sunburn.
  • Smooched-face breeds (like pugs and bulldogs), overweight and older dogs, and dogs with heavy coats are more likely to suffer in the heat.

How to help:

  • Provide access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Keeping their dishes full of H2O ensures your pet drinks often and stays hydrated.
  • Save outdoor time for early mornings or late afternoons and limit sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Keep your pet out of direct sunlight or find a shady spot out of the sun.
  • Sponge cool water on your pet’s abdomen, armpits and feet to decrease body temperature.
  • Test the sidewalk or street on your feet or hands before walking with your pet. Not only can hot surfaces burn and blister paws — making it painful to walk — but they can increase body temperature and lead to overheating.
  • Prevent sunburn — apply dog-safe sunscreen to nose, ears and skin. Despite furry coats, dogs can still be damaged by UV rays. Take note: Zinc oxide is highly toxic for dogs—never use sunscreens with it on your pooch!

 

If your cat is unhappy in the heat, they may exhibit these signs:

  • Heavy panting
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Sweaty paws
  • Excessive grooming to cool off

Things to remember:

  • Cats are more adaptive to hot weather than dogs, so they will cope a bit better — it isn’t unusual to see them sitting in their litter box — being desert-dwelling animals, they know that sand, or litter, keeps them cool.
  • Light-skinned cats’ ears and noses are prone to skin cancer.

How you can help:

  • Ensure your cat has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Brush your cat regularly — cats shed more in the heat, and brushing helps get rid of excess hair that’s making them uncomfortable.
  • Never shave a cat — fur protects against sunburn.
  • Restrict your cat from going outside during the hottest hours of the day.
  • Make sure your cat has a shady spot to rest in.

 

Keeping pets safe during the summer is easy if you understand that dogs and cats don’t handle heat the same way you do. With proper precautions, all these hazards can be prevented.

Keep cool!

_____________________________

Davi the dachshund isn’t a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but he is one cool canine.

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