In the Charlotte area of North Carolina, we refer to late summer as the “dog days of summer”. The scorching heat and humidity can really put a damper on you and your pet’s daily routine. In fact, many pets tend to gain weight in the summers of North Carolina due to a decrease in activity. It is difficult to find a good time to walk or play when the temperature is close to 100 degrees outside. Even at night time, the pavements can hold heat, making walking difficult. In the North Carolina summers, pet owners are encouraged to embrace their creativity to help their pets (and themselves) beat the summer heat while finding ways to stay cool.
Impact of Summer Heat on Your Pet
Summer heat and humidity can stress your pets, leading to possible thermal burns, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke. Certain dog breeds may be more sensitive to the heat than others, especially short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds such as pugs, boxers, or bulldogs. Dogs do not sweat like people do. While they can release sweat through their paw pads, their primary way of releasing heat is through panting to cool the air. This mechanism can become easily overwhelmed with severe heat and humidity, leading to risk of heat stress.
Signs of Heat Stress
Signs of heat stress include excessive panting, drooling, weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, and red gums. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, get them to a cool place immediately and call your veterinarian. Allowing your pet access to cool, shaded areas, keeping them indoors, and allowing fresh access to water at all times are crucial tips to help beat the heat. If you have to walk your pet, we recommend walking them very early in the morning to help prevent heat stress. It is important in the summer to test the pavement using the 3-second rule (if you can hold your bare hand or foot on the pavement for 3 seconds without being overheated, it is likely safe for your pet) prior to walking your pet. Bring fresh water with you and offer your pet opportunities to rest during the walk when it is really hot. Walking in shaded areas and trading asphalt or pavement for grass if possible can help decrease your pet’s risk of burning their paw pads.
Ways to Keep Your Pet Cool
There are several ways to help your pet beat boredom while staying cool this summer.
- One of these ways is by making “pupsicles”. Treats can be made by freezing low sodium chicken broth, peanut butter, or wet food into ice cubes or other fun shapes. You can even stuff a kong with treats and freeze it. Give your pet a frozen treat during the middle of the day to help them stay cool and occupied during the hottest part of summer.
- If your pet likes water, using a kiddie pool or a sprinkler can be a great enrichment activity to help engage them and keep them out of the heat.
- Adding ice cubes to their water bowl can be a fun way to keep them occupied – just like bobbing for apples out of a pool.
Always Have Fresh Water
The best way to keep your pet cool in the Charlotte summers is to ensure they have fresh, cold water at all times. If possible, keeping your pet in an air conditioned house or in a cool, shaded area can help keep them comfortable. If you feel your pet is gaining weight during the summer due to decreased activity, contact your veterinarian to discuss a plan to help keep them healthy. It is important to monitor your pet and ensure they are not showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If any symptoms occur, we recommend bringing them into a cool place and calling or traveling to a veterinarian immediately to help them.
Summer Heat Calls for Heartworm Protection
With the increased summer heat and humidity, mosquitoes are out in swarms, leading to an increase in risk of heartworm transmission. We recommend ensuring your pet receives a veterinary approved monthly heartworm prevention to help reduce risk of exposure and transmission of heartworms that can lead to devastating heart disease and even death for your pet. Please contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s heartworm prevention or risk.
In Weddington, North Carolina, we understand how important it can be to keep your pets happy, healthy and cool during the hot summer months. If you have any questions or additional ideas that you use to keep your pets cool, please contact us at 704-847-8466 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.