10 tips to help your pets beat the summertime heat

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We’re facing a historic heatwave in Salem. On Sunday, June 27th, our temperatures may hit 115 degrees, and the night’s low is 70 degrees. It’s time to pull together a beat-the-heat plan for you and your furry family members. 

Here are our top tips:

  1. Offer plenty of water. When temperatures rise, your pets may drink more water than they usually do. Check their bowls frequently, as your regular refills may not be enough to keep them hydrated. 
  2. Be mindful of exercise. It might be too hot for your dog to walk around the block with you, even early in the morning. Keep an eye on the temperature before you head out for strolls, ball-retrieving sessions, and other strenuous activities. If your pets simply must get out to play, add cooling elements like sprinklers and shallow kiddie pools to help them stay cool. 
  3. Check the temperatures. Sidewalks, blacktop, and other paved surfaces can grow warm enough to burn a pet’s sensitive paw pads. If those spaces are too hot for you to touch, they’re too hot for your pet too. 
  4. Skip car trips. If your pets are safe and comfortable in your cool, air-conditioned home, don’t take them with you in your car. You’ll need long minutes of intense air-conditioning work to make the inside of your car safe for your pets, and if you leave the animal behind in an idle car for a minute or two, the temperatures inside can rise to deadly levels. 
  5. Use air conditioning. If you have air conditioning in your home, keep it running. If you have a window-mount or portable unit, keep it running in one room with the doors closed. That cool zone could be just what your pets need to stay comfortable.
  6. Find your home’s natural cool spots. Your basement could be a lifesaver if you don’t have air conditioning or you lose power. Think about where you’ll go and what you’ll do if the temperature in your home starts to rise and you can’t lean on power to fix the problem.
  7. Develop your support system. Talk with your friends, and set up a helping circle. Perhaps you can take in friends that lose their power (and you can lean on them if things go wrong). 
  8. Create cooling tools now. Freeze water bottles for cooling packs. Pick up tiles at the hardware store and pop them in your freezer too (your hot dog may like to lie on them). Pick up a cooling mat from a pet store. Buy and install blackout curtains to keep the hot sun from blasting into your home. 
  9. Build shade zones. Ensure that any outdoor pets have access to plentiful shade. String blankets or towels between your trees. Or tap a beach umbrella into the ground for popup relief. 
  10. Familiarize yourself with the warning signs of heatstroke. Restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, and lack of appetite could be part of heatstroke. Other warning signs might include a dark tongue and rapid heartbeat, as well as more general symptoms such as fever, vomiting, or bloody diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you have concerns. Program the Salem Veterinary Emergency Clinic’s number into your phone, just in case you need it. 

Stay safe, Salem!