Summers in Chicago can be unpredictable and with the arrival of high temperatures, you will need to be prepared so you and your pet can safely enjoy the outdoors. When leaving the house be sure to remember a few things:
Never leave your pet in a car
An enclosed car can heat up quickly. Leaving your pet in a hot vehicle for just a few minutes can raise the temperature immediately, especially in direct sunlight. If you can, take your dog with you or have someone stay behind with the car and air conditioning running. If none of these options are possible, the safest solution is to leave your dog at home.
Make sure your pet has access to plenty of water
High temperatures and direct sunlight in the summer can overheat your dog or outdoor cat. Make sure they have access to fresh water that is filled throughout the time they are outside. For a special treat, toss in some ice cubes or fill a kiddie pool that your pet can soak in. There are even places in Chicago that allow dogs to swim if that is something they love!
Take care of their skin and paw pads
Flea and tick season will be at its height during summer. Make sure your pets are properly protected from such things so they can continue enjoying the outdoors with you. Animals are prone to sunburn as well, especially shorthaired pets. Be mindful of sun exposure and use pet sunscreen when needed. Don’t forget the paw pads! The dark asphalt on streets and alleys absorb the sunlight and heat up quickly. Give them a protective barrier with booties or special ointments and reduce the amount of time spent on it.
Groom your pet
Summer could be a perfect time to give your pet that mohawk you’ve always wanted to try. An easy way to keep your pet cool is to give them a summer haircut. Long haired and fluffy pets can overheat quicker than those with shorter hair. If you are able to, have your dog groomed with a summer cut and regularly brush them. By brushing your dog or cat, you will free up the trapped shedded hair, allowing better airflow and cooling down your pet.
Look out for signs of heat stroke
Even if you take all the preventative measures to ensure the safety of your pet, heat stroke may still occur. It is important to recognize the signs so you can help your pet as quickly as possible.
Dogs: There will be an increase in panting as they try to cool themselves down. In addition, there will also be an increase of drool and saliva. Keep an eye out for bright red or pale gums and tongue. Your dog will most likely start pacing more and become restless as well as distressed breathing. If the heat stroke goes unattended, your dog could start vomiting or have bloody stool. If any of these symptoms occur, seek a vet immediately.
Cats: They display similar signs of heat stroke as dogs but may be more subtle about it. Look out for increased panting, drool, and pale or red gums. Cats are prone to trying to hide health issues, so keep a close eye on them on those hot summer days
Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors with your pets. Stay prepared and both you and your pet will have a safe and happy summer!
Written for Windy City Paws by Elura Rogers