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Protecting Your Pets in Hot Weather

If you live in the Washington, DC metro area, you’re already aware that summer has fully arrived. With the region experiencing near all-time record high temperatures, outdoor activity can be very dangerous. During heat waves, people generally take special precautions to keep themselves safe from the extreme heat, but sometimes the impact of extreme heat on animals is overlooked.
If you are a pet owner in the Washington, DC area, take extra precautions to protect your pets during dangerously hot summer days. Here are a few simple tips from our vets at Germantown Veterinary Clinic for you to remember to keep your pet safe and healthy during the hot summer season:

  1. If your pet lives or spends time outside, be sure he or she has plenty of water and shade. Add ice cubes to the water regularly because pets will often not drink hot water. Check frequently to make sure your pet’s water bowl is filled. If your pet runs out of water, it may drink any water that it finds, and unknown water supplies may contain chemicals that are harmful for animals.
  2. If you have a pet with a short coat, you should apply sunscreen. It may seem silly, but many people assume since animals have fur they are immune to sunburn, but this is not the case for all breeds. If your pet requires sunscreen, purchase some designed for animals because human sunscreen may contain chemicals that could be harmful for pets if ingested.
  3. Leave your pet at home during errands. Although many pets may like going on car rides with you, in summer months this can be very dangerous. Temperatures in your car can easily exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a very short period of time. If you must bring your pet, do not leave it in the car.
  4. If you notice your pet is panting excessively, bring your pet inside. Unlike humans, most animals do not perspire. Perspiration is a very efficient means of cooling a body, but panting is not. Excessive panting means your animal is hot and possibly in danger of heat stroke.
  5. Dogs with long hair, dark coats, or short noses like pugs and bulldogs are particularly prone to overheating, especially when exercising—even in temperatures as low as the 60s. This is especially likely if it is humid or your dog is exercising strenuously. Limit exercise to early morning or late evening hours on the hottest days and reduce the time exercising on those days as well.

Following these simple tips will go a long way in protecting your pets in hot weather conditions. The most important thing to remember is to keep a close eye on your pet. All animals will respond differently and what may be acceptable for one pet may not be the case for another. Watch for warning signs and make sure you don’t put your pet in a dangerous hot weather position.
If you have concerns about your pet in the summer heat, please contact us to schedule a routine checkup. We can assess the health of your pet and give you tips for protecting your breed of pet this summer!

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