Summer Pet Safety Tips from Your Chicago Veterinarian

While humans are capable of cooling themselves down via sweating, our pets do not have this ability. Leaving them outdoors in the sun or in an enclosed, non-air-conditioned space can be very dangerous—even fatal.

Before you decide to take your dog out walking or to the beach on an 80-degree day, consider all of the potential risks they could face. Talk to your veterinarian, and ask yourself whether you’ll be able to keep your pet cool and hydrated at all times and whether the risks outweigh the positives.

Pet Safety Tips

Your pet can enjoy the Chicago summertime just as much as you as long as you consider their needs and plan your activities accordingly. Our recommendations are as follows:

  • NEVER leave your pet in a parked car, not even in the shade with the windows open.
  • When walking with your dog, don’t make them walk on hot asphalt—this can hurt their paw pads, and the heat wafting off the ground can raise their body temperature very quickly. If possible, find protective ‘booties’ to put on their feet (if they’ll allow it).
  • If it’s hotter than 75 degrees, keep outside activity to a minimum.
  • If your pet needs to be outside, make sure they have access to plenty of cool, fresh water (add ice cubes) and lots of shade.
  • Breeds with flattened faces (English bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers) are more susceptible to heatstroke because they cannot pant as effectively, and thus have more trouble cooling down. Keep them indoors in an air-conditioned space as often as possible.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended near a swimming pool or other relatively deep body of water. Not all dogs can swim! Shallow wading pools are great for pets that want to cool down, however.
  • If your home has insufficient air-conditioning, purchase a cooling bed for your pet, and make sure there is plenty of air circulation.
  • Always keep your dog on a secure, sturdy leash if you take them out to a public park/beach.
  • Clean up any remains of fireworks that you see around your property, or anywhere else your pet might be able to get to them.
  • Keep foods such as grapes, chocolate, onions, nuts, and sugar-free gum out of your pet’s reach. Also keep them far away from the grill if it’s in use.

Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

Heatstroke can be fatal, so the earlier it’s detected, the earlier your pet can be treated. Signs of heatstroke include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Bright red tongue and gums
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Labored breathing
  • Thick saliva
  • Inability to urinate
  • Collapse/unconsciousness

If your pet is showing any of these signs, please call our animal hospital at (773) 327-4446. If your pet’s emergency takes place after our business hours, please contact our emergency referral hospital at (773) 281-7110.

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