MARCH 27, 2013
Chill out responsibly with your pets during the summer
Summer generally is a time for relaxation and fun in the sun. Short vacations can mean that you have more time to spend enjoying the company of your pet. Many people take advantage of the warm weather by making resolutions to get themselves and their animals into shape. However, when participating in activities like walking or running during the summer, extra precautions need to be taken. Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, asserts that humans are not the only ones having to deal with the higher than average temperatures outside.
“The animals know it is hot out,” states Stickney. “They are doing things they normally wouldn’t do to stay cool. And that’s an important thing to remember when we’re outside. When they are riled up and having a good time, they may forget how hot it is. You need to monitor them and make sure they are not too hot.” Taking frequent breaks, like you would if you were out working in the heat, is important for pets as well. It is necessary to remember that although you may be used to handling the heat with no problem, your pet, especially if it has longer, thicker hair or is overweight, may not be faring as well.
“If you’re thirsty,” says Stickney, “they are thirstier. Animals need plenty of access to fresh water. You can even put ice cubes into it to make it colder.” Summer does not have to mean a halt to normal activities you participate in with your dog. If, rather than walking a circuit that takes you straight back to your house, you enjoy walking your dog to a park and then resting there for a while, just make sure to bring an extra bottle of water for your dog. Do not forget a bowl for it to drink out of as well.
“Also remember that the pavement is incredibly hot,” affirms Stickney. “If they are not used to being outside, they do not have thick foot pads, and they could develop burns on their feet. Letting them walk on the grass instead of the concrete can help keep their foot pads from blistering.” A great summertime activity to participate in with your dog is anything that allows it to get into water, where it can cool off. It will still need to have clean drinking water available, however, along with a shady place that it can rest in when it gets out of the water. Swimming for a long time can be draining on a person; it can also have the same affect on a dog that is not used to the physical exertion.
“If your pet does overdo it in the sun, there are signs you can watch out for,” states Stickney. “Panting, unresponsiveness, very red whites of their eyes, and bright pink, reddish gums mean that your dog is very hot and needs a break.” If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these symptoms, stop any activity immediately and allow the dog to get a drink and to cool off.
Overall, it is important to be smart and safe when going on outings with your pets during the summer. Monitor them closely, and be prepared to step in at the first sign of heat stress. Take care of them like you would yourself in the heat, and together you can have an enjoyable season.
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed at http://tamunews.tamu.edu.
Courtesy photo by Becky A. Downey