Many people take advantage of May’s warm weather by making resolutions to get themselves and their pets in shape for summer. However, when participating in outdoor activities like walking or running during these high temperatures, extra precautions need to be taken to ensure your pet’s safety.
Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says that humans are not the only ones who need to be cautious when exercising during higher than average temperatures.
“Animals do things they normally wouldn’t do to stay cool, which is an important thing to remember when outside,” Stickney said. “If they are all riled up and having a good time, they may forget how hot it is, so it is important to always monitor them.”
Anytime you are outdoors or doing something active during the summer, it is important for you and your pets to take plenty of breaks. Although you may be used to handling the heat and are aware when you need to stop and rest, your pet, especially if they have a thick coat, may not fare as well in the summer months.
“Keep in mind that if you’re thirsty, your pet is most likely thirsty,” Stickney said. “Animals need plenty of access to fresh water. You can even try putting ice cubes in it to make it colder and more refreshing.”
However, the warm summer temperatures don’t mean you shouldn’t participate in outdoor activities with your pets. If you and Fido enjoy long walks to the neighborhood park, for example, just be sure that he has access to plenty of water throughout your trip. Bringing along a water bottle and bowl for him to drink from is always a good idea.
“Also keep in mind that pavement can get very hot in the summer,” Stickney said. “If your dogs don’t have thick foot pads, 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.”
Any summertime activity that involves the water is good to partake in with your pet. Getting adequate exercise, while also being able to cool off in the water, is a perfect outdoor activity for Fido. However, keep in mind that they will still need to have clean drinking water available, as well as a shady place to rest once out of the water. Swimming for a long time can be draining on a dog not used to that type of physical exertion.
“If your pet does accidentally overdo it in the sun, there are signs you can watch out for,” Stickney said. “Panting, unresponsiveness, red whites of their eyes, and bright reddish gums can mean that your dog is overheated and needs a break.”
If you notice that your dog is beginning to exhibit any of these symptoms, stop activity immediately and allow them to get a drink and cool off indoors or in the shade.
Overall, be smart and safe when going on outings with your pets during the warm summer months. Monitor your pets closely, and be prepared to step in at the first sign of heat stress. They may be enjoying your time together so much that they don’t realize how hot and tired they really are!
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.