Keeping Your Pet Safe
in the Summer Heat
By Heidi Ganahl
With summer approaching, it’s time for us to turn our thoughts to keeping the pets in our care safe from the summer heat. While it’s important for us to know the tips for keeping our furry friends safe, it’s equally important that our employees and pet owners know how to, as well. Here are some basics to educate your employees and parents on how to keep their favorite four-legged friends safe this summer.
A New Summer Do?
Many parents want to shave their pets down in the summer time because they think it will keep them cooler, but in the animal world, it doesn’t work that way. A pet’s coat is nature’s way of helping keep an animal cool in the heat and warm in the cold, so removing their fur isn’t always the best idea. If your clients have a dog like a Husky or St. Bernard, shaving their fur down isn’t a bad idea, especially when the summer heat is in full swing. For all other breeds, encouraging your parents to keep their pet’s fur is not only better for the animal but it will also prevent sunburn. If the parent wants to shave their pet, make sure that they leave at least one inch in length so the fur can do its best to provide some protection from the sun. For cats, parents don’t need to shave them at all. Felines are much better at controlling their body temperature, so removing their fur really has no benefits.
When you’re keeping a watchful eye on the dogs romping around in the outdoor pools during those hot summer days, be sure to keep an eye on their skin, as well. Just like humans, animals can get sunburned, especially if an animal has light-colored fur or fur that is less than an inch long. Sunburns affect dogs in the same way as humans. Always have pet-friendly sunscreen available, and make sure to lather up the inside of the nostrils, the tip of the nose, the inside of the ears (if they are exposed), and around the lips. Your clients and their pups will thank you for taking extra special care of them.
You want to make sure that you are providing the pets extra water in the summer, but make sure to change the water frequently and never leave it out too long. Bacteria grows quickly in hot, stagnant water, so changing the water frequently will keep the pets in your care from getting sick. Remember that when pets get thirsty, they are going to drink whatever liquid is around. It is important that you keep chemicals, mop buckets, and other cleaning supplies that could leave a wet puddle away from any area where you are taking care of the pets.
Make a Safe Splash
Not all pets are good swimmers or even like swimming, so encourage your parents to introduce their pet to water gradually. Have them start with a small kids’ pool and see if their dog enjoys it. You may also suggest a local indoor, dog-friendly swimming pool that uses life jackets and an instructor to introduce their dog to the joys of swimming.
Pets at Outdoor Summer Events
Pet owners love to take their animals with them wherever they go, and warm temperatures and outdoor fun go hand-in-hand. Remind your clients that when the temperatures get hot, they should leave their pet in the comfort of their air-conditioned home. Taking their pet to crowded, noisy summer events combined with the heat can be stressful and dangerous for pets.
Exercising in the Heat
While you are watching the dogs romp around with their dog friends during the day, remember that exercise plus heat can be a dangerous combination. It is important that you keep a watchful eye on older and overweight pets that are at an increased risk from high temperatures. Make sure to provide them extra water, a cool place to lie down, and breaks from the sun. Other dogs that need to be watched closely are those with short noses or thick fur and dogs that are walking on hot pavement. Tell your parents that taking their dog for a walk or a jog is great for exercise, but make sure to do it in the early morning or later in the evening.
The Deadly Heat of Summer
Dogs can develop heat stroke fairly quickly, so you will need to keep close tabs on the dogs you are watching. You should be looking for excessive panting, staring aimlessly, anxious facial expressions, warm skin, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and collapse. If you suspect that a dog in your care could be suffering from this, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Even though the dog may look better after a few minutes, take the dog to the vet immediately.
Heidi Ganahl is the founder and CEO of Camp Bow Wow, the largest and fastest growing pet care franchise in North America. Through her personal and professional tragedies, from the loss of her young husband to losing a million dollar insurance settlement, Heidi has faced extraordinary adversity. She responded by turning her life-long passion for dogs into Camp Bow Wow and created The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives and health of animals all over the world.