Top 8 tips on keeping your pet cool this summer
Yup, the summer heat is killin' us too!
Now, imagine that heat with fur.
As temperatures rise, it is essential to know why and how to keep your pet cool this summer. More often than not, we only realise the effect of summer's heat on our pets when it gets severe, i.e. pale eyes, pale gums, vomiting, reduced energy, loss of appetite, and so on, all of which are signs of acute dehydration and a possible heat stroke. By that time, there's more damage done than usual.
Why is water important for pets?
- Balancing the body's pH
- Movement of nutrients into and out of cells
- Boosting muscle function
- Controlling nerve function
- Maintenance of skin health
What are the signs of dehydration in pets?
Sometimes, and often, unintentionally, we end up in a dangerous situation such as heat stroke or severe dehydration. In such cases, it is best to spot warning signs as early as possible and rush to a veterinarian for treatment. Remember, you cannot treat dehydration or a heatstroke at home, and the only and best option is to rush to a vet -
Loss of skin elasticity - In order to test whether or not your pet has lost skin elasticity, gently lift the skin between the shoulder blades (1-2 inches south of the collar) and then let it go. In well-hydrated pets, the skin springs back to its original form, but in dehydrated pets, it takes longer than usual.
Sunken eyes - Sunken eyes refer to eyeballs that turn inwards or when the eyelids appear pale and droopy - both of which are severe signs of dehydration or a possible heat stroke.
Loss of appetite - When dehydrated, pets often lose their appetite and will refrain from eating even the most delicious of foods simply because their bodies aren't able to function without sufficient water.
Dry nose - Both cats and dogs have wet noses when well-hydrated. Cool noses are a way of regulating body temperature - like an in-built cooler. This lubrication comes from mucus glands that work on body hydration. When your pet is dehydrated, the mucus glands stop producing that lubrication, and as a result, your pet's nose feels dry and cracked.
Pale, sticky gums - Pets that are dehydrated have pale, sticky gums, i.e. gums, when touched, are sticky and whitish-pink as opposed to a healthy reddish-pink.
Excessive panting - Laboured panting in pets, especially dogs, is a common sign of dehydration and often the first noticeable sign that calls for attention.
Lethargy - Like humans, pets cannot function without water, and when they have to, their bodies don't work at their best. Lethargy, or decreased energy and activity, are signs of dehydration in both dogs and cats.
Vomiting & diarrhoea - Lesser known but still very common, vomiting and diarrhoea are a pets' bodies' way of letting you know that he/she is severely dehydrated and requires medical attention immediately.
How to keep pets cool during summer?
Like they say, better safe than sorry, and that's never been more true, especially with dehydration in pets.
- Have plenty of fresh, clean water available at multiple places in the household.
- Stick to walking your pet early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are between 20 and 25 degrees celsius.
- Dogs and cats with a double coat/long coat, i.e. Huskies, Persian cats, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Maltese, German Shepherds, Maine Coons, and Akitas, require a thorough cooling system, such as an AC or an air cooler during the day to keep their bodies from overheating.
- Dogs with a brachycephalic skull, such as boxers and pugs, also require a thorough cooling system, such as an AC or an air cooler during the day to keep their bodies from overheating.
- Feed your pets' food with more water content, i.e. fruits, vegetables, wet food (of the same brand), strained chicken broth, coconut water, ice cream and more
- For pets who enjoy swimming, it's a perfect go-to summer exercise, especially during the day.
- If you cannot walk your pet during the day because of the heat, stick to giving them fun physical and mental activities inside the house, such as agility, scent work, playing with different toys, working through puzzles etc.
- Use cooling products such as cooling bandanas and cooling mats for when air conditioning isn't available.
With heatwave warnings across the country, there is a need now more than ever to pay attention to keeping our pets cool this summer!