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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Life + Arts

Keeping pets cool in Texas summer heat


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Every summer many pets in Texas lose their lives to extreme heat and other careless mistakes. This list details some simple things pet owners can do to ensure their furry companions stay cool in the hot Texas summer. 

Stay off the concrete 

With temperatures commonly reaching triple digits in Texas, owners often do not think about how certain surfaces can be painful for their pets to walk on such as asphalt and concrete.

A quick and easy way to gauge whether the ground is safe enough to walk your companion on is the finger test. The finger test is simply touching the ground and seeing how hot it is. If you cannot hold your finger on the ground for more than 15 seconds then it is too hot for your pet to walk on.

If it’s too hot to safely walk your dog but you still want to make sure your furry friend gets some outdoor time, consider either walking your dog only in grassy and cool areas or invest in a pair of dog shoes.

Early or late walks

Temperatures reach their peaks during the middle of the day, coordinating your pet’s bathroom schedule with an early morning or late night walk can help reduce time spent walking pets on extremely hot surfaces and prevent overheating.

Know the signs of overheating 

Being able to identify when an animal is hot can be difficult at first as most pets lack the ability to sweat. Some unusual behavior to keep an eye out for is panting, shaking and heavy drooling.

Drooling: Larger breeds will start producing a lot of drool when hot in an attempt to cool themselves down.

Heavy panting: One of the more easily visible signs your pet is suffering from heat stress is when a dog begins to pant harder than usual. It’s a clear sign that they are hot.

Shaking legs: Difficulty walking in a straight line combined with visibly shaking legs is a tell-tale sign your dog is suffering from heat exposure. 

Once noticing the signs, relocate the pet to a cool shaded area and get them water to lower their body temperature.

Protective hairstyles 

A common misconception about pets’ fur coats is that shaving them will help them stay cooler. Completely shaving your dog can actually lead to them being hotter, as pets’ coats help protect their skin and are naturally designed to regulate their body temperature during the summer heat. So trim, don’t shave.

Fourth of July

With summer comes the Fourth of July, and with that holiday comes fireworks. Avoid having pets around firework displays as the loud noises not only terrify them but are also the cause for many pets running away. In addition, allowing pets around fireworks leaves them vulnerable to falling debris that can result in severe burns. 

Golden rule

The biggest rule to remember: Never leave your furry companion in your vehicle during the summer. Leaving pets in cars is one of the leading causes of pet mortality.

Though it is easily avoidable, thousands of pets in Texas die from heat-related injuries as a result of being left in hot cars. In general, it’s best to not leave your pet in the car at all. If bringing your pet with you is not an option. However, leave the car running with the air conditioning on so your pet does not overheat.

Generally, keeping your pets cool in the summer heat is just a matter of being aware of your surroundings and knowing that if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.

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