Animal Friends Blog
Summer is a wonderful time for nature with everything coming to life. This is perhaps the most exciting time of the year for cats and dogs as there are so many things for them to explore and enjoy. Senior pets are no different to younger pets in this regard and they’ll enjoy the sights and smells just as much as when they were younger. However, it is important to remember that older pets are at more risk during the hotter months and with that in mind we’ve pulled together a few tips to help keep your senior pets safe this summer.
Basking in the sunshine can be every pet’s ideal way of enjoying the summer and this is all well and good, as long as you are supervising them. Dogs cannot cool down as easily as humans, meaning that they can overheat very easily if they lie in the sun for too long, which in turn can lead to heatstroke or worse. Like dogs, cats rely heavily on panting to cool themselves off and when the temperature in the environment increases, panting becomes less effective. The older your pet gets the harder they will find it to regulate their body temperature.
If you are going to allow your pet to lie in the sun make sure there’s a place of shade where they can go to cool down, something as simple as setting up a parasol or leaving the back door open can make a big difference. It is also vital to keep your pet hydrated at all times; make sure your pet’s water bowl is easily accessible – in a shaded area – and that you regularly change the water. It can also be wise to use a water bowl that is weighted so that there is no risk of your pet knocking it over and being without a supply of water. Older pets can sometimes be more reluctant to get up and move, making it essential that shade and water are never far away. To try and make things easier for your senior pet you can have a few water bowls dotted around your home.
For extra peace of mind why not keep a swimming pool or plastic bath full of cool refreshing water so that your pet can take a dip and cool off if they need to. Be mindful of keeping the level of water at a height that is suitable for your older cat or dog as they will not be able to swim as freely or easily as younger pets.
Another thing to think about putting to use is pet sunscreen. A vast majority of cats and dogs will not be badly affected by sunburn as the pigment in their skin protects them by filtering out the harmful ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.
However, cats and dogs that are white do not usually have this pigment to protect them, meaning that pet sunscreen should be used on the more sensitive parts of an animal’s body or areas with a thin or absent covering of hair. By applying pet sunscreen you’ll be reducing the chance of sunburn, a condition that can lead to a number of other more serious health problems. The application of sunscreen on senior pets is even more vital because if they were to suffer from sunburn, then the effects would be much more adverse.
Of course, all of these points adhere to letting your senior pet lie in the sun. If you’d like to be really careful then you could restrict your pet’s movements to an environment where it is easier to control the temperature, such as indoors where you may have air-conditioning or can make good use of fans to help keep your older pet cool.
If you own an older dog then something to be mindful of is walking times. With temperatures soaring early on in the day and staying hot till the very late evening, walking times may need to be adjusted. Try to get out as early as possible to make the walk a lot easier for your senior dog in terms of breathing and keeping cool. The same applies for evening walks, where possible try and go out as the sun is setting; a key point to remember is that concrete can remain very hot even as the sun is setting, so try and use routes that avoid such material. If your senior dog has a long coat it can be a good idea to clip the fur to about an inch in length to help them stay cool.
It can be easy to forget that cats and dogs do not have the sophisticated cooling systems that humans have. Taking the time to ensure your senior pet can keep cool this summer will not only help to keep them healthy but it’ll also enable them to enjoy the summer months a lot more.
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