MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – “Hot enough for you?” With temperatures getting to the point where people are tempted to say such things, summer weather has now officially become a health hazard.
Dogs and cats can’t cool down their body temperatures as easily as humans, so they pant and salivate profusely instead. While this provides some cooling, it can also cause pets to dehydrate more quickly. To avoid a health emergency, follow our H2O-based summer safety tips to keep your pets safe and hydrated.
Pet hydration facts
Every day, dogs need about an ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Cats need about four ounces of water for every five pounds of body weight. In hot weather, a pet’s body tends to lose a lot of water due to panting and salivation. This could prove dangerous. Dehydration can lead to organ damage and even cause your pet’s kidneys, liver, and other organs to shut down.
What to do: Hydrate defensively. Before dehydration occurs, make sure your pets always have access to clean drinking water. When you and your pets are away from home (e.g. on a long walk, hike, family outing), bring a travel water bottle and bowl.
Make your home a drinking station. Use a pet drinking fountain, place a water bowl next to their food, and even put water bowls around the house. This is said to make drinking clean water easier. Fill their water bowls completely to encourage more drinking. Because cats are sensitive to the smell, taste, and temperature of water, clean and fill water bowls regularly. And take advantage of the high moisture content of wet dog and cat food.
The signs of dehydration
Your pet might be dehydrated if you notice the following symptoms:
- loss of appetite
- dry nose
- Loss of elasticity in your pet’s skin (if your pet’s skin doesn’t return to its original position after you pull on it, it could be dehydrated)
- Moisture loss in the gums (i.e. dry and covered with sticky, pasty saliva)
- sunken eyes
What to do: Assess the situation. If you think your pet is slightly dehydrated, give them some water or pieces of ice every few minutes. Resist the temptation to give them too much water at once, as this could induce vomiting and worsen dehydration. If you suspect your pet is severely dehydrated, contact your veterinarian or animal hospital immediately.
Dogs and cats sweat… sort of.
Yes, cats sweat; However, they do sweat through the pads of their paws. This is not enough to cool down her entire body. Dogs have two types of sweat glands. A set is on her paw pads. The other set can be found throughout a dog’s body, but these glands release pheromones, so they don’t really help regulate body temperature.
What to do: more water to the rescue. Since sweating isn’t really a way to cool off, we recommend spraying and soaking your loved ones with cool, even lukewarm, water. This helps to lower body temperature quickly. In addition, the water that evaporates from your pet’s fur has a pleasant cooling effect on the skin. Paddling pools, dog pools, and a dip in the lake or pool are great ways to get your pets wet. If your pet isn’t the best swimmer, try a pet life jacket to help them stay afloat.
No matter how you soak your pet, avoid ice cold water. The cold water could cause external blood vessels to constrict and narrow, which could instead raise their body temperature.
“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Your pet doesn’t care. Dogs and cats can become dehydrated when they are hot. Make sure they get plenty of water in and even on them. While we can’t help with the weather-related clichés, Pet Supplies Plus can help with your pet’s hydration needs.
And a side note: never leave your pet in your vehicle
It can take as little as 10 minutes to get almost 20F hotter in a car. Auto glass traps the heat of sunlight, so parking in the shade or leaving the windows open doesn’t help either. Leaving your dog in the car can lead to heat stroke.
If you think your dog has heat stroke:
- Place them in front of a fan or in an air-conditioned vehicle or building.
- Give them drinking water and apply cool (not freezing) water to their skin.
- Once her body has cooled down, go to a vet immediately!
Visit Pet Supplies Plus in Marshfield or online at www.petsuppliesplus.com. Find out more about free delivery here.
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