Desert Companion

Should You Shave Mr. Fluffles?

And other burning questions about keeping your pets cool this summer

As we head into another hot summer, pet safety becomes a priority. And for good reason: Some of the most common ailments veterinarians see in the summer include overheating, heatstroke, dehydration, and burnt paw pads. The Animal Foundation’s Terry Spencer and’s Gary Richter share these tips to keep Fido from frying


Have sunscreen lip balm ready to go

Just like humans, animals are prone to sunburns and skin cancer — noses, ears, and skin beneath thin fur are the most common places for burns. Although effective, animal sunscreen can annoy them enough they lick it off. Veterinarians recommend using a lip balm infused with sunscreen. The wax of the lip balm will stay on their noses even if they lick at it. Some pets can even be trained to wear visors to protect their faces.


Think twice before driving with your pet

Last summer, PETA reported that 58 animals died from heat-related causes. If you must travel with your pet, place sticky notes throughout your car to remind you that your pet’s in there, too. Veterinarians also recommend keeping a thermometer in the car to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, on a 70-degree day with the windows rolled up, a car can get up to 90 degrees in just 10 minutes.

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Walk when it’s cooler

Dogs’ paw pads are more sensitive than you think. If the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s definitely too hot for your pets’ paws. Some pet owners swear by booties, but not all pets tolerate them. Walk early in the morning or evening when the sidewalk has cooled down.


On the trail? Leash your pet Hiking with your dogs is always fun, but their curiosity can put them in danger. Keep them on a leash to avoid any unpleasant encounters with snakes, spiders, or scorpions. If your dog is bitten by a snake or stung by scorpion, carry your dog back to the car. Letting him walk will circulate blood and heat, which spreads the venom more quickly.


Water, water, and more water

This sounds like a no-brainer, but the majority of the time, animals don’t give off obvious signs of overheating, exhaustion, or pain. Some of the less-obvious signs of overheating are a loss of balance or being unable to move — and by then, it might be too late. Keep plenty of water on hand, whether you’re at the dog park or just strolling around the block.


To shave or not to shave?

There’s no research that shows shaving your pet prevents overheating. In fact, shaving dogs with cold-climate coats can make them even hotter, because you’re essentially removing a natural layer of furry sunscreen. For breeds accustomed to warmer climates, keeping them well-groomed will ensure their coats are optimized for the summer months.

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