Keep an extra eye on your pet during summer months

While June 21, the Summer Solstice, was the longest day of the year, summer began in the Grand Valley several weeks ago. Ninety-degree temperatures in early June are fairly indicative that summer is here.

In terms of temperature, summer months are probably the hardest on our pets. That is, of course, unless they are couch potatoes lying under an air conditioner.

Most of our four-legged friends come with some sort of coat, except of course, for the hairless breeds and reptiles. Grooming shops are bustling while temperatures are high, shaving long-haired coats, especially, to help keep pets cool. While I cannot imagine walking around in a parka in 90-degree weather, shaving some breeds can actually be problematic.

Animals have certain coat characteristics depending on breed. For example, an Alaskan malamute’s coat is designed to protect it from harsh winter weather. The breed experiences more heat intolerant issues while living in the desert. Does shaving a malamute help keep it cooler? Underneath that thick coat of hair lies its skin. When that delicate layer of skin is exposed to the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays, an array of dermal maladies can occur.

Light- and pink-skinned breeds can easily sunburn if left outdoors with no protection during intense sunshine hours. Blistering, rashes and other skin disorders often emerge particularly if you only have your pet shaved during hot summer months.

Animals naturally shed their seasonal coats to adapt to changes in climate. As the days warm in early spring, you probably will see more hair deposits on the carpet as your pet adjusts to the temperatures.

Living in an arid desert also presents a unique challenge for animal owners trying help keep pets keep cool during hot summer months.

If your pet must be outside during peak heat hours, provide a shelter with shade from the baking sun. Always provide plenty of water for them to drink with frequent refills. A little wading pool or other water source could offer a pet the option of cooling down. Frozen water bottles placed under a blanket or bed can help keep a pet keep cool. 

As much as we love having our best friends with us, don’t take them out to run errands if they are unable to accompany you out of the car. Temperatures in a vehicle rise sharply in a very short amount of time. Perhaps you should sit in the car with the windows cracked and send the dog in for the gallon of milk so you can fully understand how incredibly hot it can become inside a vehicle. (Don’t forget to wear your parka!)

Signs that your pet has become over-heated include heavy panting, excessive thirst and an increased heart rate. Watch for glazed eyes, a bright or dark red tongue and gums and excessive drooling. Vomiting, diarrhea, staggering and unconsciousness are symptoms that need immediate veterinary care. In a very short period of time, an overheated animal can suffer critical damage to the brain, heart, liver and nervous system.

The dog days of summer are upon us and will continue for a couple months. The longer days offer extra daylight for exercising your pet during early morning or evening hours. Always be cognizant of your four-legged friend’s special requirements so it can enjoy summer, too.

Charlé Thibodeau has been passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years and is the owner of Ah, Natural! Ltd. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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