It’s definitely summer time on Bonaire! For the next three months we can expect very hot days. While we humans can complain about it, our pets are not gifted with the linguistic ability to tell us how hot they are. As temperatures increase, it is imperative that we keep our pets cool and safe so here are some hot weather pet safety tips to help you do that.
Hot weather pet safety tips
- Do not take your dog on errands in the car. Dogs cool themselves by panting which exchanges warm body temperature for cooler air outside. If the outside air isn’t significantly cooler than their body temp, their cooling system doesn’t work and they can get heatstroke. Studies show that on a 89 degree day(32 C.), temps inside a car (even with windows slightly open) can raise to 109 degrees (43 C.) in 10 minutes and 123 degrees (51 C.) in 30 minutes! Temps in dark colored cars can rise even more, reaching temps of 200 degrees (93 C.)! Is taking your dog with you on an errand worth risking its life?
- Provide constant access to clean cool water at home; ice in their water buckets; a few water bowls in different places. Deep bowls of cool water will stay cool longer than shallow bowls
- Always provide more than one drinking bowl on hot days in case one gets tipped over and keep the bowls in shade so the water can stay as cool as possible.
- Provide shade and shelter from the sun, even if you have provided a kennel/dog house, it must be in a shaded place.
- Provide a small paddle pool for your dogs, and for cats a couple wet towels on the floor for it to cool down on if required.
- Freeze large containers of water (in ice cream containers) to make big ice blocks for dogs to play with and chew on or put in the dog or cat’s water bowl. This helps to keep them cool and hydrated. “Pupsicles” will also keep dogs happy and entertained, frozen chicken or beef broth popsicles.
- Don’t take your animal out for a walk unless early morning or late in the day. If the asphalt/pavement is too hot for your bare feet, well guess what — it’s too hot for your dog’s paws and can burn them. Always check the asphalt/pavement with your bare feet before walking your dog. If the outside temperature is 86 F. (30 C.), the asphalt is 135 F. (57 C.). Do not over exercise active dogs, limit play to short periods.
- Put wet towels down for your pets or fill a small drink bottle with cold water and leave it in the freezer overnight. In the morning, wrap the bottle in a towel and put it in your pet’s favorite lounging spot.
- Most animals just relax and sleep in the heat – they may be grumpy so give them lots of time out. Instruct children to also allow them to rest
- Cats are a lot more tolerant to heat than dogs but will pant to take on cooler air if they are particularly hot. Heavy panting can be cause for concern so you must act fast, wrap them in a cool, wet towel and seek veterinary advice.
- Pay attention to your pet’s feet. Cats and dogs have their sweat glands on their paws. If your pet is leaving wet paw prints, it is sweating and will need to replenish its fluids. You can try cooling it down by dipping its paws in water, but with some cats this may not be appreciated!
- Apply pet sunscreen if your dog or cat has a light-colored nose or ears. Mammals burn just like humans, and can even develop skin cancer. Be sure the sunscreen is safe for animals.
- Elevate your pet’s bed. Cloth-covered plastic frames with short legs will allow your pet to sleep in comfort during hot weather, and the air passing under the bed will help keep your pet cool.
- Do you suspect heatstroke? If you think your pet has overheated, place cool (not ice cold, as this can do more harm!), wet washcloths on his head and neck, and cool compresses on his belly and under his back legs. Call your vet’s office immediately and seek their advice about next steps. Heatstroke can quickly lead to coma, cardiac arrest, and death, so don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.