As the dog days of summer arrive, we all may be spending more time outdoors, including our pets. During warm, sunny days in Texas, though, it quickly becomes a priority to stay cool by finding a shady tree, cooling off in the pool, or even heading indoors to the air conditioning.
What about our pets? At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, we’re thinking about how to keep pets safe and cool this summer, too. And, so we’re exploring shade; why it’s necessary to summer pet safety, and perhaps, how to create some fun new shade areas in our yards this summer, too.
It’s important to realize that pets can overheat quickly in warm and even cooler but humid weather. After all, they do have a fur coat. Once their body temperatures rise, dogs can’t sweat through their skin like we do, and their only means of cooling off is to pant through their mouths. They do sweat through their paw pads, but panting is the primary way they circulate cool air through their bodies. However, when temperatures soar, this is not enough without the ability to access shade and lots of cool water.
Shade and Summer Pet Safety
If pets are not able to cool down, heat stress (often called heat stroke) can occur. Most of us know by now that pets inside cars are at high risk for heat related injury and death. It’s amazing how quickly a parked car can heat up. Don’t ever do this!
Pets who exercise in extreme temperatures are also at risk for heat stroke, even when they are well conditioned. Keep walks and runs to early morning and evening. Older pets are more vulnerable than their younger counterparts to the adverse effects of hot weather.
Any of these circumstances can result in your pet overheating, getting a sunburn, or needing a trip to the emergency clinic. Pets need access to plenty of fresh, cool drinking water, shade, and ultimately, the indoors with a/c or a fan running, in order to help them recover from the summer sun.
Creating shade for your pet has never been more creative or fun. Of course, indoors is the safest place for your pets when you are away from home, and during the day, especially the peak sun hours, between 10am and 6pm.
Shade at home – If your pet is relaxing outside with you, there are some DIY projects for your yard that can offer them wonderful options for cooling relief. Here are some of our favorites:
- Natural shade is wonderful, and trees can add to your yard enjoyment as well.
- Shade sails are all the rage and provide large areas of shade with lots of air flow.
- Catios can be a wonderful way to provide cats with shade and safety outdoors, too.
- To really get creative, build an outdoor pergola.
Shade on the go – Please remember that your car does not provide shade for your pet, no matter where you park! Here are some of our tips for creating shade when you’re on the go with your pet.
- When out for a walk, look for trees that provide shady places to rest and take a break.
- Take along your dog’s own personal shade with one of these canopies or tents.
- Find natural spaces for cooling off, like grassy parks (with trees) or creeks and streams to cool off in (with shady spots).
- Consider indoor “shade” with a doggy day care that provides air conditioned play.
With so many creative options for summer shade, we’re feeling inspired! If you’ve done any DIY projects to design shady spaces for your pets, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call to let us know how you keep shade available for your pets in hot weather.