The Hot and Dry Season is the perfect time to spend sunny days outdoors with friends and family, which, sometimes, include a furry companion or two. With beloved pets in tow, swimming and playing under the sun becomes more enjoyable. Still, it’s important to remember that like humans, animals are also susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
The expected rise in temperature in the following days may pose challenges to your pet’s well-being. At this time, watch out for potential dangers due to hot weather.
Swimming with Pets
This season, what better way to cool down than swimming? Although it is no secret that our canine friends enjoy swimming, not all dogs have mastered the doggie paddle. Here are some tips to keep your canine friends safe and healthy when taking a dip.
• It is best not to leave pets unsupervised around a pool or on the beach. Small dog breeds may have trouble swimming, so for Lassie’s sake, buy a flotation device to keep your pet safe.
• Prevent your dog from drinking pool water as chlorine and other chemicals may cause him an upset stomach.
• After swimming, rinse your dog with fresh water to remove chlorine or salt to avoid skin irritation.
• Just like people, dogs can have sunburn too with thin-coated and light-colored canines at higher risk. To prevent this, waterproof sunscreen formulated for pets are also available.
Know the Warning Signs: Dehydration and Heat Stroke
Dogs enjoy sitting in the sun as much as cats enjoy lounging in its warmth. However, too much exposure to extreme heat may cause dehydration and heat stroke.
Your furry friend is at risk for heat stroke if he has any of the following characteristics:
• very young
• very old
• has a heart or respiratory disease
• not conditioned to prolonged exercise
Leaving your pet in the car during hot weather is a big no-no, not even with the windows slightly rolled down. This instance results to a rising body temperature of your pet, in which case heat stroke may occur.
• Excessive panting
• Rapid heartbeat
• Difficulty breathing
• Decreased urination
• Mild weakness
• Dry gums
• Excess lethargy
• Lack of coordination
• Refusal to eat
• Glazed eyes
• Bloody diarrhea
If any of the last four incidents happen, bring your pet to the vet immediately.
To avoid any of the above from happening, be sure to keep plenty of water available for your cat and dog at all times, both indoors and outside. Position them in a shady spot. Help them cool down with a few ice cubes in their water bowl, or even freeze some treats they can enjoy.
It’s all about the timing and street smarts
When the temperature is very high, sidewalks can very hot, capable of harming your pets’ paws and footpads. If you don’t like walking on that pavement with bare feet, limit your dog’s time on it, too.
Stay away from asphalt or rough pavement and only walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when outdoor surfaces are cool. Adjust the exercise routine you have with your canine in accordance with the temperature.
Time to have a trim
Just like any season of the year, grooming is important during warm weather. Feel free to have pet’s mane trimmed but never shave it. The layers of their coats protect them from sunburn and overheating. Your dogs and cats will also thank you for brushing their fur to get rid of matted or excess fur, which can contribute to overheating.
Visit the vet
Having your pets regularly checked is a must especially when parasites such as ticks, fleas and other insects are at their peak during the hot months. Your veterinarian will be able to give recommendations for safe flea and tick solutions.
Just like anyone in your family, your cats and dogs are susceptible to the dangers of hot weather. Protect them from too much sun and heat and you can still continue to have fun in the sun—together.
Even before the onset of the Hot and Dry season, parts of the Philippines have already been experiencing hot weather conditions.
That’s why we need to learn how to protect ourselves from the heat, especially those who are at greater risk during this season. These include elderly people aged 65 and above, infants, young children, people who are overweight, with chronic diseases, with mental illness, and even healthy individuals undergoing strenuous physical activities during the hot months. They are the most vulnerable to heat-related incidents as high temperatures can affect the body’s ability to release heat and properly cool down.
Being exposed to high temperatures and inadequate intake of water can result to heat exhaustion. Water depletion and salt depletion are two types of this illness. Although this is not as serious as heat stroke, heat exhaustion is not to be taken lightly as it may progress to heat stroke if left untreated.
• Dehydration, intense thirst
• Warm, flushed skin
• Dizziness or fainting
• Weakness or discomfort
The most serious of heat-related illnesses, heat stroke occurs when the body overheats and is unable to cool down.
This is a life-threatening emergency that may cause permanent disability or worse, death, if medical assistance is not immediately provided.
• Very high fever
• Rapid heartbeat
• Nausea and vomiting
Individuals, who remain physically active in hot weather, engaging in activities such as exercise, sports, and extensive manual labor, are vulnerable to heat cramps. These are intermittent, involuntary muscle spasms, and are often associated with dehydration.
Most cases occur in the thigh and leg areas, the core and arm muscles during or after exerting effort in a hot environment.
• Muscle spasms that are painful, involuntary, intermittent and may be more intense that the typical muscle cramps
Prickly heat or bungang araw is a skin condition characterized by tiny bumps or water blisters that appear due to the clogging of sweat glands during hot and humid weather.
Its most common locations are the forehead, upper back and chest, armpits, and groin areas.
• Prickly sensation
• Red bumps or rashes on the skin
• Mild swelling of the affected part
The most obvious result of staying under the sun for too long is sunburn. It is the term used for reddish, irritated and sometimes, painful skin caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. It may vary from mild to severe, the extent depending on skin type, amount of exposure to the sun, and the sun’s intensity.
• Reddening of the skin
• Development of blisters
• Fever or chills
• Peeling skin
Another health woe during this season is sore eyes. Also known as conjunctivitis, this is characterized by redness and inflammation of the membranes in the eyes.
It can spread through direct contact with hands contaminated with eye secretions of an infected person, or through other things contaminated with the virus. This can also be acquired by swimming in poorly chlorinated pools.
• Watery to pus-like discharge
• Redness of the eye with pain and/or itchiness
• Eyelids stuck together upon waking up
Vacation time, coupled with hot weather conditions, is perfect for different types of outdoor activities. But remember to keep cool and use common sense so you stay healthy during the hottest days of the year.
Here are important tips to prevent heat-related woes:
• Drink plenty of water and replace the salts lost through perspiration.
• Avoid intake of tea, coffee, soda and alcohol to lessen chance of dehydration.
• Schedule rigorous physical activities at the beginning or the end of the day when it’s cooler.
• Take a bath every day.
• Wear light and loose clothing.
• Limit exposure to the sun.
• Wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to avoid sunburn prior to going out. Reapply it during the day.
• Adjust to the environment; pace yourself and take it easy.
• Do not leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car.
• Stay up-to-date with weather reports to gauge how long you can stay out in the sun.
National Center for Health Promotion
Department of Health