This is a special article exclusive to SierraVetClinic.com.
The hot sun is a real concern for your pet. Cats and dogs don't sweat like we do; they are limited to panting to get rid of heat. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats die each year from heatstroke. In this process, an animal's temperature climbs so high, that it basically cooks the brain. It doesn't take very long for this horrible problem to happen. Pets that are young, older, or ill are more at risk for heatstroke. Their bodies simply don't have the resources to deal with the heat. Common signs of heatstroke include a high body temperature >103, panting, a rapid heart rate, not wanting to get up, poor balance, and vomiting. If you suspect heatstroke, your buddy needs immediate medical attention.
You can prevent this all too frequent tragedy in several ways. Limit your pet's direct exposure to the sun by providing shade. When the temperature rises, decrease you buddy's time outdoors. For animals that live outside, you can also provide water misters to keep them cool. Several beds and blankets now come in materials that you can wet down to keep your pets cool. Try to have the garage or a porch available for shelter; and check on these pets several times a day.
Fresh water is critical to help your friend deal with the warm weather. A dehydrated pet is at a much higher risk for heatstroke. Check your pet's water bowl often; you can even add ice cubes a few times a day to keep it cooler. If you have a swimming pool, this is a great way to keep your buddy cool. Make sure you have a barrier or pool cover available when you can't supervise your companions.
Sunblock is important for your pet. Dogs and cats can experience sunburns just like we do, especially pets with light colored fur. Apply a non-toxic waterproof sunblock like children's Bullfrog to your pets nose and ear flaps and any other area with thin hair. The sun can lead to cancer as well as immune problems for your pet. Watch for red or ulcerated areas on the nose/muzzle or ears that don't heal well; and have them examined right away.
Don't leave your pet in your car, even for a short time. Temperatures inside a car can climb very high very fast, and can easily become 20-30 degrees higher than the outside within minutes. An animal can die very quickly even with the windows open.
Avoid having your pets near fireworks. They are loud and stressful for your companions, and may cause them to run away or injure themselves. To make festivities less stressful, you can acclimate your pets to the noise by playing a CD of fire works or storms. Confining your companion to a crate often can be comforting. Some dogs or cats may need sedatives.