It’s summertime in Illinois, and that means everyone has to be aware of the high heat and humidity that can be common for days and weeks at a time. And while we do all we can to keep ourselves and our families cool during these months, don’t forget about your four-legged friends as well.
Many dogs and cats spend significant time outdoors during the summer months, and it’s important to bring them inside as much as possible or make sure they have adequate access to shelter or cooler areas. And of course, make sure you don’t forget your pet’s safety if they are traveling in a car with you to the vet or just around town. Keeping your pet on a leash, securing your pet in the back seat, and being careful with your dogs not hanging too far out the window are important safety tips. Do not leave your vehicle unattended with your pet inside, and you must be mindful never to keep your pet locked inside a hot vehicle.
When outside with your dog, remember that asphalt and concrete surfaces can be extremely hot in the sunlight. Walk your dog in the early morning or later evening hours, keeping their paws on a grass or cooler surface as much as possible. Make sure you have water available as well. If your pet is outside for a significant length of time, make sure they have areas of shade and plenty of fresh water available. When it’s really hot, add ice cubes to the water bowl. Cats can also overheat on those hot days, and they need water and access to shaded areas or an enclosed structure.
There are also warning signs people need to be aware of with a pet that may be dealing with heat-related symptoms. These can include excessive panting or salivating, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your pet into a cooler environment and call your vet. Many dogs love to play in water, and having them run through a sprinkler or a safe dip in a small pool can instantly cool them off.
However, also remember to check and treat your outdoor pets for ticks. There are a number of diseases dogs and cats can get from ticks, and humans can also have serious health consequences. It is very important to check your pets for ticks every day, especially if they spend time outdoors. Run your fingers through your pets’ fur with gentle pressure to feel for any small bumps, especially in and around the ears. The most notorious tick-borne disorder is Lyme disease, which can be a serious bacterial infection. Dogs, cats and humans can all contract Lyme disease, although it is uncommon in cats.
In addition, many dogs are very active and daily exercise is a part of their normal routine. However, on those very hot days it’s important to limit walking and fetching activities and make sure plenty of water is available. With good preparation, you and your pet can make the most of summer fun.