More than 170 million cats and dogs are kept as family pets in the United States, and they’re susceptible to heatstroke. Breeds such as pugs, boxers, Persians and Himalayans, have a higher risk because they have a short snout. When temperatures climb during the summer months, pet owners need to be aware of the risks to their pets and take precautions to avoid overheating. Here are seven ways to ensure your pets stay happy and healthy during the summer months.

Keep the Air Moving

Flowing air helps keep your pet cool. This is one of the reasons that pets shouldn’t be left in enclosed spaces or vehicles, particularly during summer months. When you need to transport your pets make sure that you have the air conditioning on or put your vehicle’s windows down so that air can flow. Those who don’t have A/C at home can still help improve air flow by having windows open and operating multiple fans.

Protection from the Sun

Direct sunlight can cause heatstroke, and prolonged exposure can be deadly. Use light curtains to reduce sunlight in your house, but make sure the curtains are thin enough to allow air flow if you don’t have A/C. Make sure your pet has shade spots they can enjoy outside. Those who need to tether their dogs outside should monitor them closely to make sure they don’t get tangled and left without shade. If your yard doesn’t have trees, you can increase shade by adding a patio umbrella or a shade sail.

Know The Signs

Always monitor your pet for health concerns. Panting may be a sign of heatstroke. Your pet may also seem confused or dizzy. Other indicators include having a bright red tongue or muscle tremors. Some pets may even have seizures. Once you notice these symptoms, you need to act immediately, so it’s a good idea to Compare Pet Insurance options before the summer months and make sure you can afford veterinary care. Once serious symptoms are present, you should get your pet to your vet immediately.

Hydration

Your pets need plenty of water to stay healthy in the summer months. Make sure they always have access to clean drinking water. Although you should not give your pet ice when they are showing signs of heatstroke, they will appreciate this treat, especially on a hot day. To avoid the possibility of damaging their teeth or choking on ice give them small pieces or crushed ice. Another way to keep your pet cool is to freeze chicken broth and make them treats. The broth can be added to peanut butter for a cool, tasty snack that your pet will love.

Relax

Exercise can contribute to heatstroke. When it’s extremely hot do not to promote strenuous activity. Limit your pet’s time outdoors or take your pet to the dog park in the evening or early morning when it’s cooler. Avoid walking your dog during the hottest hours of the day. Those who have dogs that love to bark at all people, cars and creatures from their living room windows should cover those windows with drapes to discourage this activity, especially if you do not have A/C at home.

Keep Them Cool

Cats and dogs with long hair are at increased risk of heatstroke. Visit a professional groomer and have your pet’s fur trimmed before summer. This is one way to help keep your pet cool. Another is to buy or make cooling pads for your house. Pet cooling mats are designed to activate when your pet lies on them and help lower your pet’s body temperature. With a towel and a bag of ice, you can also offer your pet a homemade cooling mat.

Go For a Swim

Water can help cool down your pet. Although many cats don’t like to swim, you can still give them a cool bath or wipe them down with cool, damp cloths. When outdoors, spritz dogs with a water bottle, have sprinklers running in their outdoor area, or fill up a toddler pool for them to lounge in. Find lakes and rivers where you can take your dog swimming. A cool bath can also help your dog beat the heat on a warm summer day.

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