We know you love your pets. You choose truly pet friendly apartments, where your furry friends are not just allowed, but welcomed, and there’s a great place nearby for walks and outdoor play. You’ve taken extra precautions to keep your Houston apartment safe for your pets, too. In the summertime, though, Houston’s heat and humidity bring more dangers for animals. Here’s how to take extra care of your beloved pets this summer, and keep them safe from heat-related health problems:
It’s important to know how to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke for everyone—children, elderly people, adults, and animals alike. The symptoms of overheating in animals include heavy panting, drooling, glassy eyes, staggering, weakness, lethargy, and elevated heart and breathing rates. Signs of heat stroke in dogs and cats are unconsciousness, seizures, bloody vomiting or diarrhea, and a body temperature above 104 degrees. If your pet shows signs of heat-related illness, cool him or her down immediately by applying cool, wet towels or ice packs to the head, neck, and shoulders, and offering cool water to drink or ice cubes to lick. Then get your pet to a vet as quickly as possible. Heat stroke is a potentially fatal emergency for pets or humans. To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, keep these tips in mind:
- Remember the basics: water and shade. At the very least, always make sure your pet can get out of the sun and always has water to drink. If you must leave your pet outdoors, provide shade and lots of water. Better yet, keep your pets indoors (except for walks for dogs) or make sure your pet can come inside whenever she wants. Provide lots of water to indoor pets, too.
- Know which pets are most susceptible. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion in dogs is far more common than in cats, but cats can get sick from the heat, too. Flat-faced breeds, including pug and Pekingese dogs, and Persian cats, can’t pant as well as other animals, so they’re more likely to overheat. Overweight or elderly animals and pets with heart or lung diseases need extra care on hot days, too. Keep them indoors in air-conditioned rooms, if you can.
- Ask your vet or groomer whether a shave will help. Many animals can benefit from a shorter haircut for the summer, but shaving too closely could cause sunburns. Animals with light-colored fur are more susceptible to sunburn, as are those with thin fur and light-colored ears and noses. If you’re concerned about burns, ask your vet what type of sunscreen is appropriate for your pet.
- Limit outdoor exercise, and choose times wisely. Yes, pets need exercise year-round. Walk your dog and let your cat play, but make outdoor exercise less intense as the temperature rises. Take dogs on shorter walks, and choose cooler times of day—early in the morning or late in the evening.
- Never, never leave a pet in a car on a hot day. You’d think every pet owner knows this, but being left in hot cars is still the most common cause of heat stroke in dogs. Even parked in the shade, even with the windows open, even just for a few minutes, a car in the summer can get hot enough to kill your pet or do irreversible organ damage. This post from About.com has some tips on how to protect your own pet if you must run an errand while he’s with you, and how to help other people’s pets if you see them left in hot cars.
- Watch out for hot pavement. Dogs’ and cats’ paw pads are tougher than our feet, but they can still be burned. Cats are usually able to avoid hot spots, but dogs are often injured when they’re walked or left to stand on too-hot pavement, truck beds, and the like. Try to walk your dog on the shady side of the street or on grassy areas, and watch for signs of burned paws: limping, refusing to walk, or licking paws. For more advice on protecting your pup, and on what to do if her paws do get burned, check out this post from About.com.
Posted by Melanie Belasco Levy on 06/28/12