A woman and her dog outside.

With plenty of sunshine and miles of coast line, pets and humans alike know that Florida is one of the best places to live. Summertime, however, requires some caution for keeping our furry friends safe from the heat.

How to Have a Cool Cat (or Dog) This Summer

Cats and dogs have minimal sweat glands, mostly in their paw pads, and cool off primarily by panting. With limited ways to lower their body temperatures, the risk of heat exhaustion is high in hot temperatures. Our summer-loving staff at Animal Medical Center have some tips to keep your pet cool:

  • Keep pets indoors in air conditioning
  • Allow access to drinking water at all times
  • Provide a small wading pool or sprinkler for dogs
  • Get a raised bed or cooling pad  

Seeing the Signs

Heat exhaustion, also called hyperthermia, happens when your pet is unable to regulate their own body heat. This condition ranges from mild to severe. When a dog’s core temperature approaches 106 degrees, heat stroke can occur, causing organ damage or death. Vomiting, seizures, or loss of consciousness require emergency services. 

In addition to these extreme symptoms, monitor your animal pals for the following signs of trouble: 

  • Fever
  • Rapid pulse 
  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Dehydration including a dry nose or sunken eyes
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Shivering or shaking

If you notice your pet overheating, take action right away! Move them to a cooler space immediately and give them cool or lukewarm water to drink. Place cold towels on their head or neck. If possible, run cool water over your pet or put them in front of a fan. Call your vet as soon as possible to discuss a follow-up plan.

Preventing Problems

Avoid leaving your pets outside for more than 10-15 minutes when temps are 90 degrees or higher. Be sure there is shade in outdoor spaces.

Limit strenuous exercise and mid-day walks. Temps are cooler in the early morning or late evening. Try taking shorter walks on easy routes. 

Leave fur alone–no shaving! Fur is part of your pet’s natural cooling system and cutting fur too short can actually increase the chance of overheating. Shaving exposes skin, increasing the risk of sunburn. Instead of shaving, it’s a good idea to thin the undercoat in long-haired dogs or cats. 

Don’t leave your pets in parked cars. It’s generally 20 degrees warmer inside a vehicle even with the windows cracked. The longer your pet waits, the higher the temp goes. Leave your pet home, find a local doggy daycare, or look into boarding your pet for longer absences. Never leave your pet alone in a parked car.

The team at Animal Medical Center is here to help you ensure your pets stay healthy all summer long. Call (813) 654-6222 to schedule an appointment.