Pets and Heat Safety

July 7, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Linda Ciprella with Camp Bow Wow Oak Park brought an adoptable dog into our ABC7 studio to give us tips to keep our pets safe this summer.

Linda's Tips:

1. Pets Need Sunscreen
Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog's lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears.

2. Summer Style
- Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating.
- Shave down to a one-inch length, but never to the skin, so your pet still has some protection from the sun.
- Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

3. Pets Need Extra Water - But don't let them drink just anything
- Give your dog extra water during the summer, but be sure not to leave the water out for too long.
- Change the water often to prevent your pet from getting sick from bacteria that can grow in hot water.
- Puddles of what may look like water on the ground can be mistaken for dangerous chemicals, so keep an eye out when your dog is looking for something to sip on.

4. Make a Safe Splash
- Buy a kiddie or dog swimming pool and fill it with water for your pet. But do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool - not all pets are good swimmers.
- Introduce your pet to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats.
- To remove chlorine or salt from the fur, rinse your pet after swimming.
- Be sure to also keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

5. Pets at Outdoor Summer Events
- Warm temperatures and outdoor fun go hand-in-hand, but when the temperatures hit record highs, refrain from taking your pet to crowded summer events like concerts or fairs.
- The loud noises and crowds, combined with the heat, can be stressful and dangerous for pets.

6. Exercising in the Heat:
- Pets need exercise even when it is hot, but show extra care to older and overweight pets that are more at risk from high temperatures.
- Limiting exercise to early morning or evening hours can help.
- Extra caution should also be taken with short-nosed dogs, and those with thick coats.

7. Watch for Heatstroke
- Dogs can develop heatstroke fairly quickly.
- Signs of this include excessive panting, staring, anxious facial expressions, warm skin, refusal to obey commands by owner, vomiting, collapse and rapid heartbeat.
- If you suspect that your pet is suffering from this, lower the animal's body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body.
- Often the pet will respond after just a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal.
- If this happens, take the dog to the vet immediately - don't try to solve this yourself.

8. Tips for Smart Exercising with Pets in the Summer Heat
a. Walking:
Stay on dirt or grass paths, as too much walking or running on concrete can stress joints and irritate your dog's foot pads.
In warmer temperatures, concrete emanates heat which can increase the body temperature of your pet relatively quickly.
Under these conditions, be sure to keep Fido properly hydrated.

b. Jogging:
Choose a breed that is suited to distance-running.
Your jog with Fido should include five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down.
During the summer, avoid jogging during the hottest times of the day and stop if your dog is lagging behind you. (See running safety tips below).

c. Swimming:
Be sure to keep an eye out for fatigue at all times.
You may also want to consider having your pet wear a doggie life vest.

d. Frisbee:
You can play a game in your own yard or join a "Disc Dog" team.
Participating in competitions may give you and your dog greater motivation to practice regularly.

e. Hiking:
Like walking, you'll need to maintain a brisk enough pace to elevate you and your pet's heart rate.
As always, be sure to keep you and your pet properly hydrated, especially during extended excursions.

f. Pets Need Sunscreen:
As skin cancer in pets is a serious concern, purchasing pet-friendly sunscreen can go a long way in protecting the health of your pet.
Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog's lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears.

g. Senior Pets:
Senior dogs in particular need adequate exercise, but adjust his or her routine to their abilities.
A mere 15 minutes of massaging and stretching every day will raise your dog's sense of well being.
Jogging with your dog may not be appropriate if he or she is arthritic, but swimming and other low-impact activities are great for dogs with joint pain.

h. Safety Tips for Running with Fido in Summer
- Start Slow
If Fido has never been out for a run with you, don't expect him to be up for a marathon.

- Be Mindful of the weather
You know how torturous it can be to run on a brutally hot day with high humidity so don't subject Fido to that as well.
If you absolutely must run that day, go during the early morning hours, between 5 AM and 8 AM, before the sun becomes scorching hot or leave Fido at home.

- Wear proper accessories
If running in the dark, be sure that you and Fido accessorize with some reflective gear so that you are visible to traffic.

- Watch out for Fido's feet
Pavement and asphalt gets incredibly hot on summer days and can quickly burn your pup's feet.
Gravel can be dangerous as well, as it can puncture Fido's paws.
To be safe, only take Fido running on dirt trails, grass, or sand.
Stop periodically during your run to check his paws for burns or cuts.

- Hydrate
If you're going first thing in the morning, wait until he's had a bowl or two of water.
Take a product like a Handi Drink so you can stop and give your pup some water throughout your run.

- Keep a watchful eye
Dogs are people pleasers and if you want to keep running, dogs will often work to keep up even if they may be in pain.

- Lather up
If you're running on a sunny day, be sure to apply sunscreen to both yourself and Fido if your dog has shorter hair or are a lighter color.

- Eating before or after running
Make sure that your dog does not eat one hour before or after running.

9. Safety Tips for Boating with Dogs
a. Pets Need PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
- Your dog may not be the best swimmer. If he can swim, he may be at risk of exhaustion or hypothermia if he falls overboard.
- When planning a boating trip with your pet, visit your local pet store for personal floatation devices (PDF) made especially for Fido to ensure his safety.
- In order to guarantee that the PDF will function properly, make sure to try it on your pet beforehand.
- Allow Fido time to practice swimming while wearing the PDF so that he can become familiar with the device.

b. Pets Need SPF Too
Just like us humans, dogs can get extremely sunburned, especially if he or she has light colored hair.
Dog sunburns can cause the same problems as that of people - peeling, redness and even cancer.
Skin cancer in pets is much more prevalent than one would assume, so purchasing pet-friendly sun screen can go a long way in protecting your dog's health during your boating adventure.
Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning include inside the nostrils, the tip of the nose, around your dog's lips and the inside of their ears.

c. TOO Much Fun in the Sun
Excessive sun exposure can cause health complications for Fido, like heat strokes.
Boat surfaces made of fiberglass are prone to getting extremely hot when in direct sunlight, and Fido will absorb that heat through the pads in his feet.
Be sure to establish a shaded area where your pet can retreat when he or she is feeling overheated.
Depending on where you're boating, a dip in the water can be a great way to cool your pet down.

d. Don't Assume that Fido is a Natural Nautical Pup
Dogs often prefer stationary areas.
Placing Fido on a moving vehicle may be a stressful experience if he is not properly prepared.
Before the big day, introduce Fido to the boat and allow him to become acquainted with it while it is still immobile.
Next, start the boat's engine.
The loud noise will most likely be unfamiliar to Fido and hearing it will help him to adjust.
Next, bring Fido onto the boat and take him on a short ride.

e. Fresh Water for Fido
Be sure to keep Fido hydrated by bringing fresh drinking water onto the boat.
A water bottle that can squirt water directly into Fido's mouth is a good way to hydrate him during a bumpy boat ride.
As Fido may not know how dehydrated he really is, he might not beg for water on his own.
If necessary, initiate his water consumption.

f. Fido Will Need to Relieve His Bladder
If possible, designate a spot where Fido can "tinkle" while on the boat.
Pet stores sell wee-wee pads and doggie potties that look just like a patch of grass.
Having one of these options on board for Fido to use will help him know where to go, and can offer an easy clean-up for the owner as well.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.