Pets and summer heat, not a great mix! As Arizona’s summer starts to heat up, the veterinarians at the Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic would like to share a few tips (as pet owners ourselves) to consider when trying to take the best care we can of our pets.
- NEVER leave your pet in the car. The windows act like an oven, trapping heat in the car. On extreme weather days, surfaces in the vehicle can reach temperatures close to 200 degrees. Please be aware that the Arizona Good Samaritan law allows a passerby to open a car door or break a window if an animal (or child) looks to be in imminent danger, after calling law enforcement for help.
- Limit exercise on very hot days. Just like humans, dogs cannot withstand excessive exercise on triple digit days. You should not be hiking in the heat of the day, and neither should your dog. Try walking on grass, early in the morning or after the sun goes down. Make sure to alsotest the ground before a walk. If you cannot touch and hold your hand on the ground without pain, then the ground is too hot for your dog’s paws to walk on. Booties are an option if your pet will tolerate them.
- Be aware of how heat and sun affect your pet. For single-coated breeds like a poodle or Maltese, a summer haircut is an option, but for double-coated breeds like a Pomeranian or husky, a short haircut can be detrimental. Their double coat actually helps keep them cooler. Also, be careful about shaving a dog, or those with white hair. Dogs can get sunburned in the summer. Use a canine sunscreen, or one that is zinc-free, on the tops of their heads, muzzle, and neck for protection.
- Look for signs of heat stroke. Glazed eyes, rapid or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, excessive drooling, lethargy, dizziness, or clumsiness are all symptoms of possible heat stroke. If your pet is non-responsive or acting “drunk,” seek veterinary attention immediately.
- Make sure to keep your pet hydrated. Bring water and a collapsible bowl if you go out, and every time you get a drink, refresh your pet’s water to keep them comfortable and healthy.
At the Midwestern University Companion Animal Clinic, we provide complete veterinary healthcare services for your pet, including specialty services from laparoscopic and arthroscopic surgery, to digital imaging, CT scans, ultrasonography, and an underwater physical therapy treadmill. We would be happy to see you and your furry friends and help you get ready for a fun – and safe! – summer full of adventure.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for questions regarding any possible medical condition.
Written by: Darius L. Starks, D.V.M., Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine
Darius Starks, D.V.M. is Clinical Assistant Professor of Small Animal Primary Care at the Midwestern University College of Veterinary Medicine. He supervises veterinary students during their clinical training at the Companion Animal Clinic, part of the Midwestern University Animal Health Institute in Glendale, Arizona. The Animal Health Institute clinics utilize the latest technology to provide high-quality care for both small and large animals, at affordable prices. For more information, call 623-806-7387 (PETS) or visit: www.mwuanimalhealth.com