Summer is typically a time for outdoor adventures, exercise, and play. And with summer comes weather conditions that can be hazardous or stress inducing for your pets. Here are a few summer weather conditions to watch for, as well as some tips for keeping your pets safe when summer weather becomes extreme.
Heat Dangers and Pets
The most obvious summer weather hazard for pets (and humans) is heat. Cats and dogs cannot perspire the way we do to help control their body temperature, so it’s essential that your pets have an easy and available way to cool down if they become overheated. Like us, our pets can suffer the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion during periods of prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in pets include:
- decreased appetite
- excessive panting
- dry or tacky gums
- decreased urination
- sunken eyes
- decreased skin elasticity
Tips for keeping your pet safe from heat dangers:
- Never leave your pet in a car unattended. The interior temperature of a vehicle can exceed 120ºF within minutes and can quickly overwhelm a small dog or cat. Heat stroke can quickly become lethal under these extreme conditions.
- Always provide your pet with an ample source of fresh water. This is especially important is your pet spends a significant portion of its time outdoors.
- Pat your pet down with a damp cloth. To simulate the evaporative cooling effect of perspiration, gently wipe a damp towel over your pet’s coat.
Pets and Sun Exposure
We don’t often hear about pets becoming sunburned, but the risk is very real, especially for short-haired breeds. Pets exposed to prolonged sun and heat can develop skin ulcers, skin infections, and even skin cancers.
Tips for keeping your pet safe from prolonged sun exposure:
- Provide your pet with shelter/shade when outdoors. Be sure there’s a place your pet can go safely when it becomes too warm. A shady tree, pop-up tent, beach umbrella, or doghouse can provide a place for your pet to escape the heat when it chooses.
- Protect his skin with pet sunscreen and/or a shirt. Some pet shirts are made specifically to reduce sun exposure and have a UPF rating.
Pets and Thunderstorms
We all know how quickly a sunny July afternoon can become a torrential downpour. Pop-up thunderstorms and gusty fronts are a common feature of summer weather. For many pets, these storms are a source of significant anxiety. Because many animals can sense subtle changes in barometric pressure and variations in the air’s electrical charge (static electricity), they often know a storm is coming before we do, and a storm-phobic pet can begin to ramp up into a full panic when a strong storm approaches.
Tips for keeping your pet calm during thunderstorms:
- Provide a place where your pet can safely hide from a storm. This could be a box, crate, or cage stocked with your pet’s favorite blanket, toys, and treats, or simply a quiet place away from doors and windows where your pet can hunker down till the storm passes.
- Explore high-tech options. There are various products available online, including a blanket that reduces your pet’s ability to perceive spikes static electricity that can occur with a thunderstorm. If your pet suffers from extreme storm-related stress, ask your vet to recommend a product that could help.
- See your vet. Pets with extreme storm anxiety may require medical management to keep them calm. If non-medical techniques fail, your vet may prescribe medication that can reduce anxiety.
Extreme Weather and Pets
Summer is a time when the weather can get downright dangerous—for pets and humans. Extreme weather events such as tornados and hurricanes can quickly devastate communities and entire regions, so it’s best to be prepared.
Tips for pet safety during extreme weather events:
- Never leave a pet outdoors in severe weather. Even if your pet is not storm-phobic, never leave it outdoors during severe weather. The risks from blowing debris, falling trees, down power lines, and flooding are simply too great. Your pet is always going to be safer (and feel safer) hunkered down indoors with you.
- Have a storm shelter or escape plan. If you live in a place where severe weather is the norm, it’s prudent to have a shelter or escape plan. If you’re a pet owner with an underground storm shelter, be sure it’s stocked with plenty of food and supplies or your animals.
- Take pets with you if you need to evacuate. If you know you might have to evacuate quickly, be sure a bag of pet essentials is part of your emergency evacuation supplies.
Even pet owners who practice general water safety may be unprepared for the severity of a flash flood. In many regions of the US, a drenching summer storm can send millions of gallons of water down dry washes, gullies, and canals. In severe flash floods, storm sewers, creeks, and trenches can quickly be overwhelmed by water and debris, sending floodwaters out across open land and posing a hazard to humans and pets.
Tips for keeping your pet safe in wet weather:
- If you live in a flood prone region, have an evacuation plan. Never leave pets chained near creeks or streams that are prone to flooding.
- Keep pets away from rapid drainage areas. These include dry washes, trenches, and gullies.
- Purchase a floatation device for your pet and keep it handy. Dog flotation devices are available in a range of sizes and styles, so shop around online or at your local pet store. If you need a brand recommendation, ask your vet.
We hope these tips help you and your pets have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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