"We’re having a heatwaaaaave..a tropical heatwaaaaave…"
Oh wait, we’re not in the tropics. But we are definitely experiencing a lot more heatwaves than we used to, and sadly that’s not a trend likely to reverse itself any time soon. And while we all rush out to buy fans and portable air conditioners, stocking our freezers full of virtually every flavour of ice cream we can cram in there, it’s important to think about what these extended heat bombs mean for our furry friends.
Short and sweet--the science doesn’t lie!
Opt for early morning and late evening walks if possible. But also be aware that humidity can be very uncomfortable for them as well. Pay attention to your dog’s signals. Because we’re bipedal, when walking we’re exposed to fewer of the sun’s rays, and that means we might be feelin’ fine while they’re roasting. For us, just 7% of our surface area is being beaten down upon by the sun, it’s roughly three times that much for our puppers! And of course, we’ve got all those fantastic sweat glands to keep us cool, that our puppers don’t. Because dogs rely heavily on panting to stay cool, they also exert far more energy. So what seems like just a quick walk around the block for us may feel more like a marathon to them.
Hairless and short-haired dogs are more obviously at risk when it comes to sun exposure, but many pups with fair skin around their eyes or noses are also at risk. So make sure to take precautions--there are special shirts and sunscreens available to help protect your pup! And if you're worried about your black dogs, a recent study has revealed there may not be any reason to be more concerned about our ninja dogs when they're out and about--they don't heat up anymore than their fair-haired counterparts.
Keep it cool, kitty
We often tend to think of dogs first when it comes to heat issues, we need to be mindful of the impacts on our feline friends as well. Cats face the same issues as dogs when it comes to sweat glands--while they do have them, they’re covered in fur! Cats don’t pant like dogs (if your cat does start to pant, call your vet ASAP!), but will often try and groom, the saliva then evaporates and then helps keep them cool (neat, huh?). But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to watch out for heatstroke and general discomfort when it gets hot. And remember, heatstroke in pets is very serious, so when in doubt--call your vet!
Don’t let your cat wander on its own during heatwaves. You may think they’ll be fine, but there are many situations they can find themselves in where they won’t be able to cool down adequately. Letting your cat out alone in higher temperatures also means they’re likely to seek out sources of water to rehydrate, many of which may be unsafe for them to drink. Standing water is not only a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites, but could contain chemicals like antifreeze which are extremely harmful to them.
Watch the water
It’s super important to make sure that your dog has free access to clean water, but especially during hot weather. And for many pups, a trip to a pool or beach can be a super refreshing option to help beat the heat. But be mindful of a couple things. Never force your dog into water. Just one unpleasant interaction with a body of water can result in a dog that’s terrified of water for the rest of their life. If your dog isn’t comfortable, opt to just splash some cool water on their belly with a towel or your hands.
If you have a water fiend like our lovely Lucy was, be mindful of hyponatremia, also known as water intoxication. Dogs that love to play fetch may swallow a great deal of water that can result in this extremely dangerous condition. So if your pup can’t get enough water, make sure to give them lots of breaks from these activities (including sprinkler or hose biting), don’t let them overdrink (this is a rare situation where you may need to restrict access to the water bowl) , and try using flat water toys which are less likely to absorb as much water.
Take care of those tootsies
The pads of a dogs’ feet can actually burn on asphalt, which heats up dramatically under the sun’s rays. Check the pavement with your hand to check how hot it is. If it’s uncomfortable for you, then it’s definitely not going to be any fun for your pup! And pay attention to your kitty’s toebeans as well. They’ve got sweat glands on their paws, and if they’re leaving tracks it could mean they’re in need of some hydration.
Work their brains, not their bodies!
When temperatures are at their most extreme, walks should be kept to a bare minimum. I hear you saying “But my dog still has energy to burn!!” I hear, you, trust me, I do. You don’t live with Fizzgig and Gonzo and not feel this. But that’s where enrichment activities come in. We’re huge fans of enrichment activities all the time, but it’s even more important when it’s hot. Activities that work their brains will actually tire them out far more than just walking. Check out our friends at Bindi’s Bucket List for all the enrichment activities you could possibly imagine!
Suppertime heatwave hacks
If your pet is on wet or raw food, mix in some water with their food to make it into a paste. If they’re eating kibble, then you can grind it up and do the same. Then pop that goopy mess into a kong, toppl, or even just an ice cube tray, freeze it, and your pet will lick that heat into oblivion!
Cool treats are a win for both cats and dogs alike! There’s no shortage of wonderful recipes for frosty frozen treats to meet your pets gastronomical and gastrointestinal needs. Frozen yogurt, cottage cheese, and no-salt broth ice cubes are always a great option--and you can mix those up with some pet-friendly fruits as well.
And of course, we’ve got a great way to help keep your pets cool as well! Just soak our environmentally friendly, non-toxic cooling gel wraps, and keep your pets both cool and looking stylish while they’re sipping barkaritas on the veranda this summer! Click here to find out more about them.