Dog Days of Summer: How the Season Can Threaten Pets

Summer is rearing its head. For the people in Utah, it might mean having to deal with temperatures rising to over 30 degrees Celsius, especially during July and August. It increases the risks of major sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke.

What many don’t know, though, is that it’s not only humans who can suffer from the scorching heat. Pets do too, and they can also benefit from heat-busting solutions, like an air-conditioning installation in Salt Lake City, Utah.

How Does the Summer Affect Pets?

Like humans, pets, such as cats and dogs, can also become prone to heat exhaustion or, worse, heatstroke. While it can happen at any time of the year, the odds are higher during summer because of the significantly increased temperatures.

Like humans, pets need to cool themselves and release excess heat from the body. They also do it through sweat glands. The problem is they have fewer of these. Most of these glands are only in their paws and noses. Thus, they try to regulate their body temperature by panting, which is what dogs usually do.

The ability to tolerate heat can depend on the breed and age of the pets. For dogs, usually, the older and the little ones cannot manage body temperature properly. Some pets like the bull mastiffs and pugs are also brachycephalic. They have a broad skull, narrow nostrils, short noses or snouts, and soft palates.

These abnormalities already predispose them to breathing difficulties and respiratory diseases. These pets might struggle with a full breath that can help expel carbon dioxide. They can also need to pant harder, which can lead to inflammation in their throat tissues. The swelling will further narrow the air’s passage.

Severe heatstroke can also damage their major organs, such as the heart and kidneys. This health problem killed at least 58 dogs in 2018, according to PETA.

Summer is also a season for ticks, and that is dangerous for both pet owners and dogs because of Lyme disease. Although treatments are already available, it can also be fatal for anyone who gets sick.

dog drinking from a bowl

How Can Pet Owners Help Dogs and Cats?

Cats and dogs are smart enough to help themselves deal with the raging heat, but pet owners can also assist them in the following ways:

  • Turn that AC on. Air-conditioning units help humans cool their bodies faster. It turns out it also has the same effect on pets. Dogs, especially, can nap inside for at least two hours, depending on their level of comfort.
  • Give them full access to water. Make sure water is available in many parts of the home. Cats can enjoy a water fountain, which encourages them to drink more often. Bowls can also be closer to where they prefer to stay most of the time.
  • Don’t leave pets inside the vehicle. Closed windows and doors can trap an enormous amount of heat inside.
  • Find the best time to walk the dog. Although many dogs still need to exercise regardless of the season, pet owners need to be strategic on the time. The best options are early in the morning or evening, as well as late in the afternoon.
  • Steer clear from places where ticks might be common. Pet owners can also check for ticks as soon as they come back from a walk.
  • Pay attention to the signs of heat exhaustion. If pets are panting longer and more often or if they are lagging during walks, they might be already showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. One might also need to pay attention to lethargy, lack of appetite, or seizure.

Pets are at the mercy of rising heat during the summer too. They need all the help they can get to keep them safe and healthy this season.

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