At Leon Valley Hospital, we understand that San Antonio’s summers are a concern for humans and pets alike. As the mercury rises, so does the challenge of keeping our furry friends cool and comfortable. But with some knowledge and preparation, your beloved companions can enjoy the sunny season just as much as you do.

Summer Pet Preparedness: Beating the Heat

Preparation is the key to summer pet health. Begin with a thorough assessment of your pet’s living quarters. Indoors, check that your pet’s resting area is away from direct sunlight and that the air can circulate freely. A climate-controlled environment is ideal. If that’s not an option, fans can help by providing a breeze. Outdoors, create shaded sanctuaries with pet-friendly plants or sun shades that allow your pet to relax away from the relentless sun.

The summer heat also necessitates a shift in your pet’s exercise schedule. Avoid the midday melt by planning activities during the early morning or late evening when the temperature is more forgiving. The hot pavement can harm sensitive paws, so try to walk on grassy or shaded paths. Watch for signs of overexertion, as pets often want to play despite the heat, which can lead to heatstroke.

Interactive play indoors can also supplement your pet’s need for activity without overexposure to the heat. Puzzle toys, feather wands for cats, or a simple game of hide and seek with treats can keep them engaged and moving without the risk of overheating.

Adjusting your pet’s diet during summer may be beneficial. Heavier meals can increase body temperature, so you may want to consider feeding your pet smaller, more frequent meals. Your vet can advise on whether you should adjust your pet’s summer feeding schedule.

Summer Hydration 

Keep water available to your pets at all times. Consider multiple water stations around your home and yard. If you’ll be away, automated water dispensers can ensure your pet’s bowl is always full. Ice cubes or frozen treats can also be a fun surprise that helps them keep cool.

Summer Pet Health: Recognizing Signs of Distress

Summer brings risks such as heatstroke, which can be life-threatening for our pets. Vigilance is key—knowing what to look for can mean the difference between a minor incident and a medical emergency. Keep an eye out for these indicators that your pet may be struggling with the heat:

  • Excessive Panting: While panting is normal, especially after play, watch for heavier and more prolonged panting.
  • Increased Heart Rate: A rapid heartbeat can be a sign of distress. Place your hand on your pet’s chest. If the heartbeat seems unusually fast, it’s time to cool down.
  • Drooling or Salivating More Than Usual: This can be a pet’s attempt to dissipate heat but can also indicate overheating.
  • Lethargy or Weakness: If your usually energetic pet is unusually sluggish, heat could be affecting their energy levels.
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: Gastrointestinal upset can be a symptom of heatstroke in pets.
  • Bright Red or Pale Gums: Check your pet’s gums—discoloration can be a sign of overheating.
  • Uncoordinated Movement or Stumbling: This can indicate that your pet’s body is starting to experience serious distress from the heat.

If you notice any of these signs, take immediate action. Move your pet to a shaded or air-conditioned space and offer them water. Applying cool (not cold) water to their body can also help. However, avoiding ice or very cold water is essential, as this can cause shock.

At Leon Valley Hospital, our team is equipped to handle these summer emergencies, providing your pet with the expert care they need. If you’re ever unsure about your pet’s symptoms or if they’re displaying signs of heatstroke, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being throughout the hot summer months and beyond.

Learn about pet safety tips for summer in this related blog post