Georgia’s hot and sticky summer weather is no secret, which makes safely enjoying the outdoors with your pet challenging. Our Tamberly Animal Hospital team provides these tips to help you ensure your furry pal can play safely outside and avoid heat-related injuries.

#1: Change your pet’s walking route

Is your pet’s favorite walking route on sunny sidewalks or wide open spaces? While soaking up the sun feels great during the winter, during the blazing summer, head to mostly shady areas, and avoid scorching hot pavement and asphalt to prevent burns to your pet’s sensitive paws. In addition, schedule your walk when the day is coolest—early morning. When the afternoon temperature and humidity are at their highest, your pet should exercise indoors.

#2: Take your pet for a refreshing dip

Ahh, taking a dip in a sparkling pool is a refreshing way to keep cool on a hot summer’s day. If your pet is not a skilled swimmer, fill a shallow wading pool with a few inches of water, toss in some toys, and watch them splash around in their private pool. Your pet may also enjoy chasing a sprinkler’s cool water streams, and your dry lawn will appreciate the hydration.

Although your pet may be a strong swimmer, always put them in their safety vest at the pool, lake, or other natural water body. You never know when your pet may become fatigued, and their safety vest can help prevent your struggling pet from dragging you down, too.

#3: Offer your pet frozen treats

Your favorite ice cream is a refreshing treat on a hot day, but avoid sharing this frozen treat with your pet. Many pets are dairy-sensitive—including cats—and they do not need all the sugar added to humans’ treats. Instead, whip up some pet-friendly frozen treats, like ice cubes made of canned pet food, low-sodium chicken broth, or the juice from canned tuna. You can also stuff a rubber Kong with your pet’s favorite snack—xylitol-free peanut butter, spray cheese, or a tasty combination, and freeze overnight.

#4: Pets’ hot weather essentials

When your pet is outside, they should have access to summertime essentials—fresh water, shade, and ventilation. Always ensure your furry pal has a full bowl of fresh water readily available, a shady spot out of the sun’s blazing rays, and cooling air flow from a nice breeze or a fan.

#5: Pets’ summertime grooming

Summertime is no time to take a break from your pet’s grooming. However, do not shave them down to the skin, and instead, brush them regularly, perhaps daily, which removes loose hair and prevents mats that can clump together and trap heat. 

Although this may seem counterintuitive, a slight trim for a long-coated pet is a better haircut than a full-body shave. Your pet’s fur helps them regulate their body temperature, ensuring they stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If you shave off their fur, your pet loses their thermoregulatory abilities, and can overheat quickly. 

#6: Don’t let your pet overdo it outdoors

When playing outside, many pets do not know when to call it quits. Working dogs may be driven to keep performing, despite the miserable, dangerous heat and humidity levels. Monitor your pet closely, and enforce rest periods to ensure they cool down. If your pet begins to pant heavily, drool excessively, develop brick red gums, or appear weak or confused, head inside to the air-conditioned house. 

Keep in mind that your pet can take one to two months to become acclimated to Georgia summers’ heat and humidity, so keep outdoor time to a minimum when temperatures first begin to soar. As your pet becomes accustomed to the high temperature and humidity levels, they can comfortably stay outside for longer periods.

#7: Know how to perform first aid for a heat-stressed pet

If your pet begins to show heatstroke signs, such as excessive drooling or weakness, take immediate action to stave off this life-threatening emergency. After you bring your overheated pet back to the air-conditioned house, begin implementing cooling measures. Place your pet in a cool water bath and continually run the water over them, ensuring their head remains above water. Position a fan nearby to help the water evaporate and heat dissipate. Do not wrap your pet tightly in wet towels or submerge them in ice-cold water, as these techniques can cause more harm than good. When your pet’s temperature drops to 103 degrees, stop the at-home cooling treatment, and head to Tamberly Animal Hospital for veterinary treatment.

You and your furry pal can safely enjoy Georgia’s sticky high temperature and humidity levels this summer by following our summer heat safety tips, and monitoring them closely for heatstroke signs. If your pet becomes overheated, our Tamberly Animal Hospital team is here to help.