Playing It Cool: Heat and Senior Pets
Here’s how you can keep your senior pet cool and safe when the temperatures rise.
Imagine yourself walking through the park on a hot summer day wearing a heavy winter coat. Are you starting to sweat just thinking about it? This is how a dog will feel in the heat, if they have a long unbrushed coat. As for our feline friends, while they may enjoy lounging in a sun beam, they can also suffer in the heat. Their ears can even get sunburnt. Hotter weather is also why our pets tend to be a little more lethargic in warmer months of the year.
While all pets experience the effects of heat, senior animals require special care in warmer weather, and older pets are more susceptible to heatstroke. It’s not just extreme heat that you need to be mindful of -even milder days can pose a risk to your pet.
By following a few simple tips, you can keep your cool while helping your senior pet beat the heat.
You may notice that as your pet ages, they start spending less time outdoors and more time snoozing in the house. That being said, there are some mature dogs that won’t “ask” to come inside when the temperature rises – especially when there’s something fun they could be doing outside.
Pay attention to your pet while they are outside. If you notice that they are panting loudly and excessively, that’s a clear sign that your pet should be removed from the heat and brought indoors. Guide them to a spot in the house where they can cool down. Some pets head for the basement; others to the cool bathroom floor tiles. If needed, put a fan near them or pump up the air conditioner to help keep them cool.
If you’re away from home – at a neighborhood park, for example - try to move your pet to a shaded area and have them lay down to cool off. Minimize their activity to help them bring their body temperature down.
Having cool, clean drinking water on hand is a must. Keep it cold and fresh by regularly changing your pet’s water throughout the day. You can also drop a couple of ice cubes into the bowl. If the water bowl is outside, place it in a shaded spot to help it stay cool for as long as possible.
For a special frozen treat, you can make a batch of pupsicles or other frozen treats. They’re healthy, refreshing and tasty!
If your older pet is joining you or the family outside in the backyard, be sure to find or create a shady spot for them. Getting them situated under a tree is a great way to keep your pet out of the sun. You can also create a shady spot by hanging up tarps to form a canopy. This can be a great way to keep both pup, and other humans, cool on a hot day.
Walking is great exercise for senior dogs. On hotter days, instead of foregoing a walk, simply adjust your walking schedule. Avoid going out at times when the sun is at its strongest and when the pavement has been baking in the heat. A walk first thing in the morning or just before sunset can save you and your pooch from the sun’s rays, and still give you the opportunity to get in some exercise.
There are a number of wearable items designed to keep pets cool in hotter weather. Cooling vests and bandanas are popular items that are comfortable for your pet and keep them cool in the heat. Simply splash the vest and / or bandana with some water and let the specially designed fabric work its magic!
Heatstroke is a very serious condition for pets. It can be fatal. Be sure to monitor for the signs of heatstroke - vomiting, loud panting, increased heart rate – and get your pet to the vet immediately if they display these symptoms.