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Blog category: Pets

Extreme Heat: Six Tips to Protect Your Pet This Summer

4 min read

Extreme summer heat can be dangerous — for humans and animals alike. But when you’re feeling the heat, you can be sure your pet’s feeling it even more. Animals exposed to extreme heat for prolonged periods can experience organ failure or even death.

Our furry friends don’t sweat through their skin. Cats and dogs keep cool by sweating through the pads of their feet while rabbits use their big ears as a cooling system. Dogs and cats also cool themselves by panting or breathing rapidly, which means their systems need to work extra hard to stay cool.

Animals can’t tell us verbally when they’re too hot, so it’s up to us to ensure their safety and wellbeing. Follow these six tips to keep your beloved pet cool and comfortable in the… ahem… dog days of summer.

1. Limit Time Outside

If your pet is accustomed to spending time outdoors, don’t leave them there for too long. And make sure they have a shady spot to cool-off under like a shade tree or covered patio or porch. They’ll also need plenty of hydration. A big bowl of water will stay cooler for longer than a small one. Some pets won’t drink warm water no matter how thirsty they get so be sure to switch out the H2O regularly or add some ice cubes.

2. Never Leave in a Hot Car

While every pet owner should be aware of this one, tragedies still happen every year. Even with windows open, the interior temperature of a vehicle parked in 90-degree heat can skyrocket to 160 degrees in 20 minutes. However, it’s still common to see dogs left inside cars while their owners run errands. In certain states, including California, it’s illegal to leave a pet unattended under extremes of heat or cold that could endanger the animal’s health or wellbeing. Can’t tell if it’s too hot? Don’t risk it. Your dog will be safer outside the car with you or left at home.

3. Don’t Treat Your Pet Like a Human

Most of us consider our pets to be family members. But it’s important to remember that pets don’t always enjoy the same things humans do. Take swimming, for example. Cats and rabbits typically do not have any interest in getting wet. (Although, there are always exceptions.) While many dogs love to play in water, not all breeds are keen to submerge. Don’t assume you’re doing Fido a favor by throwing him in a river or swimming pool. If your pooch does go swimming in chlorinated water, be sure to rinse them off after.

Hot sidewalks should be avoided too when short legs leave a canine or feline body close to the ground. While we can protect our feet by donning footwear, hot pavements can burn tender paw pads. In hot weather, plan your strolls in the early morning or later in the evening when the asphalt has cooled off.

One instance where you do want to treat your pet like a human is when it comes to protecting its tender skin from the sun. If your pooch or kitty has a lighter coat, or if they’ve just been clipped, you’ll need to apply sunscreen. Not sure which type? A good rule of thumb: if it’s gentle enough for a baby, it will be safe for your pet.

4. Keep Poisons Out of Reach

This safety measure should be followed year-round, but certain substances are more widely used in the summertime. Pesticides, fertilizers, and auto coolants are items that, if ingested by your pet, could be dangerous, if not fatal. Cocoa bean mulch contains theobromine and caffeine, just like chocolate, which is poisonous to dogs. (Mulch is not safe for cats either, but our feline friends are less likely to eat inappropriate substances.) Keep citronella candles and insect coils out of your pet’s reach too.

5. Prepare for Major Weather Events

Along with triple-digit temperatures, summer can also bring hurricanes, tornadoes, and power outages in parts of the country. Even high levels of humidity from a summer storm can cause your pet discomfort as it can make it difficult for them to cool off by panting. If you’ve been advised to evacuate your home due to the threat of an extreme weather system, plan to take your pet with you — even if you think you’ll be back home soon.

6. Watch for Heatstroke

If you’ve taken the precautions above, hopefully, heatstroke will never be an issue. But if you notice any of the following symptoms, take action immediately.

Signs of heatstroke in pets:

Dealing with heatstroke:

By taking these precautions, you’ll keep your pet safe and cool. Then you can both relax and enjoy all the fun that summer brings.

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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