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CRITTER CHATTER: Protect Your Pet During Warm Summer Months

Hot town summer in the city.
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty. – Joe Cocker

by Dr. Phil 

Amongst the showers and lightning strikes, warm humid weather has arrived with a vengeance in Vermont. Looking at the national weather, high temperatures are also affecting many other states. Below are a few important ways to protect our pets from sun, heat and humidity during warm summer months.

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car. And I repeat, never leave a dog or cat in a parked car. Parking in the shade, using “granny” screens or even leaving the windows partially open will not slow rising body temperatures or reduce the possibility for heatstroke and even death.  And, if you see a dog locked in a parked automobile, call the police…immediately.
  2. Always make sure that your dog has access to cool, clean water to reduce the chances of dehydration, and if your dog stays outside, make sure ample shade is accessible.  Most doghouses do not provide enough airflow or ventilation to have any cooling function.
  3. Limit outside walks to short ones and avoid long hikes or games of run-and-catch such as Frisbee. A nice walk along the lake or ocean provides ample opportunity for cool down for both you and your dog, and time to reorganize your thoughts on life. A nice splash in a wading pool can bring relief from excessive heat.
  4. Keep your dog off asphalt or hot concrete surfaces to reduce the chance of pad burn, or use protective paw booties. Be aware that when out for a walk – even in the evening – little guys’ bodies are close to the ground and can heat up quickly.  Don’t muzzle your dog because it reduces the body’s ability to lose heat through panting.
  5. Check with your groomer to make sure your dog has an appropriate haircut. A buzz cut is not necessarily better because dogs can be sunburned just like people, especially around the nose or if their hair coat has been cut too short.  Long hair breeds can be trimmed (but not less than 1 inch.), although some breeds, such as Huskies, should not be shaved because their hair coat actually protects them from the sun.
  6. Watch for any signs of heat stroke such as an exaggerated breathing rates and excessive drooling. If you believe your animal has heatstroke, contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately. In the meantime run cool – not cold – water over your dog’s body and turn on a cooling fan.

Summer is a good excuse to spend more time outside with your dogs and cats, just “be cool” about it.

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