Last year, 2017, was the hottest year on record in the U.S. as well as elsewhere in the world. This spring, summer, and fall are predicted to be just as hot if not more. So now's the best time to get your pets ready for what's coming, and I've provided a few tips as well as a few must-have products to get ready before it hits!
1. Keep Pets Groomed
Perfect haircut for a lab in summer (image)
It's especially important to keep your pets groomed during warm weather. Frequent brushing is a must to keep fur from matting and for aerating your pet's skin. While grooming you will need to look for fleas and ticks and possibly administer one of the natural flea deterrents I recommend in a recent blog. Keep your dog's fur trimmed to 1/2 inch. Even cats should get a haircut in summer, if that's possible!
Do not shave your pet's fur down to the skin, as your pet's skin is extremely sensitive to sunlight.
2. Walk At The Coolest Time Of The Day
Cement and asphalt are hot, much hotter than the air, in summer. You may feel like going for a walk at 2:00 PM, but you wear shoes to protect your feet and clothing and hats and sunglasses to protect the rest of you. Dogs are not comfortable in heat; leave them home in the heat and go out when it's cooler.
3. Use Pawtection To Protect Your Dog's Paws
Even if you walk in the morning and evening when the air is coolest, the sidewalk and street surfaces may still be hot. Make sure your dogs don't burn their paws. Pawtection by Natural Dog Company can successfully protect your dog's paw pads, and I prefer it to boots, unless you are hiking on uneven surfaces. The company's Paw Soother is also an excellent product to relieve sore dog paws. (see 4 Natural Dog Company Organic Products That Heal Snouts, Skin, & Paws)
4. Apply Pet Sunscreen
Short-haired and fine-haired dogs should have sunscreen applied before going out even for a 15 minute walk. The sun is as bad for their skin as it is for yours. According to veterinarian oncologist Dr. Brenda Phillips of the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in San Diego, about 33 percent of all canine cancers and 25 percent of all feline cancers start in the skin (source). Light skinned, light haired, and short haired pets are the most vulnerable, and watch out for light skinned noses!
Epi-Pet is the only pet sunscreen to date that has been approved by the FDA as a sunscreen for dogs; Epi-Pet cannot be used on cats!
Do not use sunscreen intended for humans on your pets; it can be poisonous if licked.
5. Use Dog Sunglasses
Doggles, sunglasses for dogs
Our pets eyes are as sensitive to sunlight as ours. We wear sunglasses when outside; our dogs should too, especially if they are in the sun for any length of time. I've bought Doggles for all of my dogs throughout the years and, though it may take a few attempts to train a dog to leave them in place, they learn, and their eyes appreciate Doggles!
Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to a variety of eye problems, some of which are exacerbated by direct UV sunlight and glare. Many dogs are simply photosensitive and squint their eyes in bright light.
In addition to eye disease or sensitivity to light, dog eyeglasses offer protection from foreign objects, like dust or allergens entering the eye. One of my dogs needed Doggles after he ran into another dog's canine tooth... with his eye. I had another dog who had an eye removed because of untreatable glaucoma. When he only had one eye left, I needed to protect it!
My new dog has cataracts and he wears a handsome pair of red Doggles when we go out. Cataracts are exacerbated by sunlight in humans and animals and these Doggles have dark lenses to protect his eyes. They are also very cool looking!
6. Use Protective Hats Or Visors
Especially if you don't use Doggles or other protective sunglasses for your pet, you should use a pet hat with a visor or a pet visor alone. Fitting your pet with a proper hat is tricky because most hats have openings for your dog's ears and the distance between their ears and eyes differ from dog to dog.
Unless you actually measure the visor portion of the hat and compare it to your dog's ear-to-eye measurements plus an inch, you may be purchasing a hat that doesn't protect his eyes from sunlight.
In the photos below, you can see how the same shaped hat fits dogs differently; in some the brims don't shade the dog's eyes at all.
7. Use Sun Protective Dog Clothing
In addition to sunscreen, SPF protective dog jackets are a good idea, especially when you are out for any length of time, at the beach, on the water, or even hiking. PlayaPup Sun Protective/Lightweight Dog Shirts have an SPF of 50+ and protects 97.5 percent of harmful UV rays. PlayaPup Dog Shirts come in several colors and sizes to fit almost any size dog.
8. Have A Constant Supply Of Cool, Fresh Water
You can improvise a water container for your dog or cat, or you can purchase one if you're out and about with your pets frequently. I like the XUANRUS Dog Water Bottle that holds 14 ounces and has an attached drinking spout that's ergonomically shaped for your dog's comfort. What I like best is that it filters the water with a coconut shell activated carbon filter that absorbs impurities before they enter the drinking bowl. The XUANRUS comes with two filters; each should be changed every 3 to 6 months depending on frequency of use.
You may want to have a supply of electrolyte enriched water around for your pets, in case you suspect, or want to prevent, mild dehydration. Any time your pet is over-exercised or exposed to heat for a long period of time, you should supply him with electrolyte enriched water like Essentia Ionized Alkaline 9.5 pH Bottled Water. See these warning signs of dehydration in dogs.
9. Cold Treats In Hot Weather
When dogs get overheated, they can enjoy a nice cool treat, just like we do. But DON'T give your dog human ice cream or ice pops that are full of harmful sugar! Instead make your dogs their own cool treats, like these from The Cottage Market.
Assorted dog treats from The Cottage Market
Buzzfeed has compiled a great list of natural home-made dog treats that are frozen with links to the recipes. I always wait until frozen treats have melted a little before I give them to my dogs and cats. Also, it's best not to let them scarf up frozen treats too fast!
10. Keep Your Home Cool For Your Pets
Unfortunately, many pet parents turn off their air conditioning when they leave the house, leaving their pets to swelter in hot conditions. No more than you would leave your dogs or cats in a parked car should you leave them in a hot house. Leave the air conditioning on for them or have fans in the rooms they frequent. Pets can suffer heat stroke even in their homes.
Don't leave your pets outside in the heat unless there is a safe, cool area like a shed or dog house with a The Green Pet Shop Cooling Pet Mat/Pad Patented Pressure-Activated Cool Gel.
Even though I would make sure the dog above had a good haircut before leaving him outside, I think this The Green Pet Shop Cooling Pet Pressure-Activated Cool Gel Pad works like a charm. You don't have to do anything to it; it recharges cool every 15 minutes of non-use.
Get these items lined up for your pets before the late spring and summer heat. It's already 90 degrees in southern California!
That's the buzz for today!