The heat is on here in sunny California, and that means an increased risk for pets for heat-related emergencies. Unlike people, pets can’t check the weather report, dress in shorts instead of pants, or sweat to keep themselves cool. They need their loving owners to make smart choices about their daily activities and care.

Protect your pet and still enjoy an unforgettable summer with these heat safety tips from Companion Veterinary Clinic.

Supervise your pet outdoors

Unsupervised pets are at risk for many heat-related emergencies, including heat exhaustion, accidental drowning, dehydration, and life-threatening heatstroke. These consequences often befall pets who have been accidentally forgotten and left outside for excessive amounts of time without adequate water or shade.

Monitor your pet’s outdoor activity, especially during peak high temperature hours and near water (e.g., pool, pond). Brachycephalic, senior, and young pets are especially vulnerable to heat distress and should never be outside for more than brief periods.

Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle

The Companion Veterinary Clinic team understands that leaving your pet at home is difficult, especially when you’re out having a good time, but leaving your pet in a parked vehicle for as little as 10 minutes can have tragic consequences.

The car’s exterior creates a greenhouse effect, trapping warm air inside that rapidly reaches  higher temperatures. Nothing you do, including parking in the shade or cracking the windows, can minimize your pet’s heatstroke risk.

There’s no room for error with heatstroke prevention: If you can’t take your pet with you at your destination or any stop along the way, leave them at home.

Reschedule outdoor activities for cooler hours

Physical activity can hasten heat exhaustion and heatstroke, especially for brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced), overweight, senior, or young pets. Although your dog may be willing and eager to head outdoors, you must be their advocate and make thoughtful decisions about their comfort and safety.

Reschedule your pet’s daily exercise for early morning or late evening hours when temperatures are typically at their lowest. Consider adjusting the routine’s intensity level and duration to prevent fatigue. If it’s dark outside, use a reflective or light-up collar and leash to ensure your dog is visible.

Protect your pet’s paws from sizzling surfaces

Asphalt, concrete, metal, and artificial turf can reach searing temperatures on warm sunny days and remain dangerously hot for hours after the sun goes down. Your dog’s paws feature a thick layer of collagen and insulatory fat that offers some protection, but prolonged contact with hot surfaces can seriously burn your pet’s feet, yet not be obvious until hours later.

Stick to grass, mulch, or gravel when possible and avoid asking your dog to stand or walk on hot surfaces. You can easily determine if the pavement is too hot for your dog by pressing your hand against the surface. If you can’t comfortably keep your hand in place for five seconds, the surface is too hot for your pet. If you must exercise your pet on roads or sidewalks, invest in a pair of thick-soled dog boots.

Keep your pet afloat with a life jacket

Hot weather draws everyone—including pets—to the nearest pool, lake, pond, or river, and results in countless water-related emergencies every year. All pets, including experienced swimmers, should wear a life jacket whenever they are near or in water in case of fatigue, undertow, injury, or a fall.

Your pet’s life jacket should be a bright color with reflective material, so your pet is easily visible from a distance and at night, with a top handle you can use to help your pet out of the water. Also, consider a chin rest if your pet is a novice swimmer.

Water activities won’t protect your pet from heat-related hazards, so ensure your pet stays hydrated and takes plenty of breaks. 

Watch out for wildlife and parasites

Wildlife encounters are more common during the summer months, when pets spend more time outdoors and wild animals protect their young or migrate to find water or food. These encounters can lead to serious injury from wildlife attack or pet loss if your dog or cat pursues a fleeing animal. Avoid these frightening encounters by keeping your cat indoors and keeping your dog leashed on trails and in common wildlife areas.

In addition, external parasites, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas, are most active from now until late fall, and can transmit debilitating illnesses. Mosquitoes and ticks can transmit heartworms and Lyme disease, respectively, and fleas can trigger a full-scale infestation in your home. Ensure your pet is safe from pesky parasites by administering year-round parasite preventives from Companion Veterinary Clinic.

Ensure your summer is memorable for all the right reasons by considering your pet’s comfort and wellbeing. But, if the unexpected happens and your companion needs veterinary attention, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited Companion Veterinary Clinic team is available for scheduled appointments and urgent care services. Contact us, so we can help.