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As the summer settles in, temperatures rise and so do the risks for our furry companions. At Family Friends Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to ensuring that your pets stay safe, comfortable, and healthy during the hottest season of the year. Here are essential summer safety tips to help your dogs and cats beat the heat.

Recognizing Heat-Related Risks

Dogs and Cats:

  1. Heatstroke: Both dogs and cats can suffer from heatstroke, a potentially fatal condition where the body temperature rises above normal. Signs include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and collapse.
  2. Dehydration: Pets can quickly become dehydrated in the heat. Look out for signs such as dry gums, sunken eyes, and a decrease in skin elasticity.
  3. Burns: Hot pavement and sand can burn your pet’s paws. If the surface is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws

If you ever think your pet may be suffering from heat stroke or dehydration, call your Family Friends Veterinary team right away at 616-575-6520, or head to your nearest emergency hospital. When it comes to our pets, its always best to be safe to air on the side of caution.

Special Considerations for Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Persian cats, have shorter snouts and narrower airways, making them more susceptible to heatstroke. These pets have a harder time panting efficiently to cool down, so they require extra vigilance during the summer months.

Tips for Keeping Your Pets Cool

General Tips:

  1. Provide Plenty of Water: Ensure your pet has access to fresh, cool water at all times. Consider placing multiple water bowls around the house and yard.
  2. Shade and Shelter: Make sure your pets have access to shaded areas if they are outside. Provide a cool, ventilated space indoors.
  3. Limit Exercise: Avoid strenuous activities during peak heat hours (10 AM to 4 PM). Opt for early morning or late evening walks when temperatures are cooler.
  4. Never Leave Pets in Cars: Even with windows cracked, temperatures inside a car can soar to deadly levels within minutes.
  5. Cooling Products: Utilize cooling mats, fans, and pet-safe ice packs to help your pet stay cool.

For Brachycephalic Breeds:

  1. Extra Hydration: These breeds may require more frequent water breaks and cooler, shaded environments.
  2. Avoid Heat Exposure: Keep brachycephalic pets indoors during extreme heat and limit their outdoor activities.
  3. Monitor Closely: Watch for any signs of respiratory distress or overheating and be prepared to act quickly.

Summer Grooming

Regular Brushing: Regular grooming helps remove excess fur and reduces the risk of overheating. For double-coated breeds, avoid shaving their fur as it can interfere with their natural temperature regulation.

Appropriate Haircuts: If you have a long-haired pet, consider a trim to help keep them cool, but avoid shaving down to the skin.

Safe Fun in the Sun

Water Play: Introduce your pet to shallow pools or sprinklers for a fun and cooling activity. Always supervise water play to ensure safety.

Protect from Sunburn: Pets can get sunburned, especially those with light-colored or thin fur. Use pet-safe sunscreen on exposed areas such as the nose, ears, and belly, and/or look into lightweight sun shirts for pets!

Traveling with Pets

Travel Preparations: Ensure your pet is comfortable in a well-ventilated carrier. Take breaks on long trips to provide water and bathroom breaks.

Accommodations: Choose pet-friendly accommodations with climate control. Avoid leaving pets unattended in unfamiliar environments.

Emergency Preparedness

Know the Signs of Heatstroke: Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and act swiftly if your pet shows any signs.

Emergency Kit: Keep an emergency kit with your pet’s medical records, cool packs, a thermometer, and contact information for emergency veterinary services.

Final Thoughts

Your pets depend on you to keep them safe and comfortable, especially during the sweltering summer months. By following these tips, you can ensure that your beloved dogs and cats enjoy a happy, healthy, and cool summer.

For more information or to schedule a summer health check-up, contact Family Friends Veterinary Hospital, or check out our Facebook and Instagram posts! Our team is here to help you and your furry friends navigate the heat safely.

Stay cool, stay safe, and enjoy the summer with your pets!

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