Summer is in full swing, which means sunny days, hiking trips, and picnics in the park. But it also means soaring temperatures and the increased risk of heatstroke.
One of the biggest questions of pet owners during the summer months is how to tell when it’s too warm to be outside with your pet. While it ranges from pet to pet, there are three key things you can do to gauge whether you should keep them indoors.
Know your pet
Unfortunately, some pets are just more prone to overheating than others. Young pets and those with short noses and long hair, in particular, tend to overheat more easily. Keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior, like heavy panting, drooling, vomiting, unsteadiness, or lethargy can all be serious signs of heatstroke.
This infographic from My Pets Vet Center also provides some important tips and temps to keep in mind during the hot summer months: Heat Stroke In Dogs
Check the pavement
The air may feel cool enough for your pet, but the ground can retain the heat for much longer. The ground absorbs the sun’s heat throughout the day so, it’s not uncommon for it to reach the mid-100s even if the air doesn’t rise past the double digits. Even in places where the average summer temperature sticks to the high 70s, the sun can cause the concrete to reach a staggering 125 degrees. A quick way to check if the ground is too hot for your dog is to place your hand on it for 3 - 5 seconds. If it’s too hot to keep your hand comfortably on the pavement, it’s too hot for your pet to be walking on it.
Be aware of humidity
The amount of humidity in the air can also play a big role in how comfortable your pet feels during the hot summer months. Animals, especially dogs, pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. By doing this, they’re able to take heat away from their body. However, if the humidity is too high, panting doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to and their temperatures can continue to increase to dangerous levels. On excessively humid days, opt for keeping your pet indoors – ideally in a space with air conditioning.
What to do instead
If the weather doesn’t show signs of cooling, don’t panic. There are still plenty of ways your pet can safely get their exercise in.
Walk when it’s cool out
During the summer, the best time to walk your dog is before the sun rises or after it sets. During these times both the air and concrete are cooler, so there’s less risk of burnt paws. Pets tend to be quite stoic and rarely show signs that they’re in pain, so we need to proactively avoid putting them in situations where they would risk being injured.
The intensity and duration of your pets exercise will have to be adjusted according to the day’s weather conditions. On particularly hot days, this can mean avoid exercise outdoors altogether. Instead, make sure of your indoor space and play games like hide-and-seek or set up a makeshift agility course to work through. Whether your pet is exercising inside or outside, make sure you always have ample fresh water available.
Keep them cool
Any time your pet is outside, make sure that they’re able to escape from the sun and heat. This could come in the form of shade from a tree, umbrella, or tarp, and refreshing sources of water such as a kiddie pool or sprinkler. You can also create icy treats and toys using their favorite Freshpet treats
and ice cube trays or molds. Finally, it goes without saying that your pet should always have access to fresh, cool water. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our tips for keeping your pet properly hydrated during the summer
Taking the time to learn how to manage the heat for your pet will ensure that your summer is full of nothing but happy memories. If you ever have questions or concerns about your pet's sun and heat safety, speak to your veterinarian.