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Ongoing B.C. heat wave means steps needed to protect your pets

Five tips for keeping your dog cool in the summer

As summer temperatures soar across British Columbia, it's essential to ensure the safety and comfort of our pets. High temperatures can be dangerous for animals, leading to heat exhaustion, dehydration, and even heat stroke. Here are tips on protecting pets from the heat.

1. Provide ample water and shade

Hydration is crucial for pets during hot weather. Ensure your pets always have access to fresh, cool water. Consider adding ice cubes to their water bowls to keep the water temperature down, suggests BC SPCA. Additionally, provide shaded areas where they can escape the direct sun. Trees, tarps, or pet tents are excellent options for creating cool spaces in your yard.

2. Avoid midday walks

In the southern parts of province in July and August, the solar noon (when the sun is at the highest point in the sky) is between 1 and 2 p.m., with the hottest hours of the day following. It can be helpful to plan walks and outdoor activities for early mornings or late evenings when the temperatures are cooler.

Remember to pack essential supplies for pets on long hikes: extra water, collapsible bowls, medications, and pet-friendly sunscreen, said BC SPCA.

3. Be cautious of sunburn

Dogs can also become sunburned, and certain breeds are more susceptible, including ones with fair skin and fur, and shorter, thinner fur. While dogs can get sunburn on any part of their body, the most vulnerable areas include ear flaps, the bridge of the nose, any part of the body where the fur has been lost or shaved, and thinly haired parts of the face, such as near the eyes and mouth.

If your dog gets sunburned, you can place a cool compress on affected areas if your dog is comfortable with that or use aloe vera gel, said

Talk to your local pet store or vet about dog-friendly sunscreens.

3. Never Leave Pets in a Parked Car

Even 10 minutes in a hot, unventilated car can be fatal for an animal, said the BC SPCA. The temperature inside a car can rise rapidly, leading to heat stroke and potentially fatal consequences. Leaving a pet in a car can result in fines, with the maximum penalty being up to $75,000 under the Prevention of Cruelty Animals Act. If you need to run errands, leave your pets at home in a cool, safe environment.

4. Watch for signs of overheating

Recognizing the signs of overheating can save your pet's life. Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and uncoordinated movements, said BC SPCA on its website. If you notice any of these signs, move your pet to a cooler area immediately, offer water, and contact your veterinarian.

5. Provide Cooling Treats

Frozen treats can help cool down your pets. You can make simple ice pops using pet-safe ingredients like plain unsweetened yogurt, peanut butter, or pureed fruits and vegetables. These treats not only cool your pets but also keep them entertained. You can try this recipe from Mother Nature in Powell River.

Protecting pets from the summer heat requires a combination of awareness, preparation, and proactive measures. By providing adequate water, shade, and a cool environment, and recognizing the signs of heat distress, you can ensure your pets enjoy a safe and happy summer. 

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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