Summer Care for Country Pets

Jun 10, 2024
two dogs running and jumping in the grass on a sunny summer day.

Summer Care for Country Pets

Summer in the country is a fun, busy time for humans. But the fun times can be challenging to our furry friends. As the temperatures rise, it’s necessary to take special care of your cats, dogs, and other domestic animals to ensure they stay healthy and happy.

One of the benefits of living in a rural area is the freedom to give your domestic animals more room to roam. That means more time outside to do what animals like to do. Whether your pets are romping through fields, lounging on the porch, or exploring the great outdoors, it's important to keep their well-being in mind during the warmer months.

Here are some essential summer pet care tips to help your pets stay healthy, happy, and comfortable.

Understanding Heat Risks for Pets

High temperatures can be dangerous for people and animals. Human beings are fortunate in our ability to take care of ourselves when the weather becomes unbearable. Because our domestic animals rely on us for so much of their care, it is essential for us to consider their needs. To keep our fur babies healthy and happy during summer months, we must take steps to keep them cool and comfortable.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Pets can suffer from heatstroke, which can be fatal.
  • Dogs with short snouts, such as pugs and bulldogs, are more susceptible to heatstroke.
  • Cats and dogs can get sunburned, especially on their ears and noses. This is true for horses, as well.
  • Hot pavement, rocks and sand can burn your pet's paws.

By understanding the risks of heat on your pets and taking steps to manage the conditions, you can ensure that they stay healthy and happy all summer long.

Hydration for Pets in Summer 

Just like humans, pets need plenty of water to stay cool and hydrated in the heat. Having access to fresh, clean water at all times is essential for summer pet care. For outdoor pets, consider multiple water stations around your property. Make sure to check water bowls frequently and refill as needed.

Bacteria thrives in warm, wet conditions. Keep water dishes clean and change the water frequently to prevent any bacterial growth.

Consider adding ice cubes to water bowls to keep the water cool and encourage your pets to drink. Adding a splach of low-sodium chicken broth to their water can make it more appeling if you are concerned they aren't getting enough fluids.

Another way to keep them hydrated is to provide your pets with frozen treats. Or make your own ice pops using pet-friendly ingredients.

If you are traveling with your pet, bring extra water and a portable water bowl. Do not keep your dog or cat in a parked vehicle. Even with the windows down, a car heats up quickly making your pet susceptible to heatstroke.

Signs of Dehydration

Dehydration can be a serious issue for pets during the summer months. Watch for signs of dehydration like excessive panting, lethargy, loss of appetite, sunken eyes, or dry gums. It is important to recognize the signs of dehydration so that you can act quickly.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, offer them water immediately and contact your veterinarian for further advice. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to heatstroke, which can be life-threatening.

By ensuring that your pet always has access to plenty of clean water and recognizing the signs of dehydration, you can help keep your dog or cat healthy and hydrated during the summer months.

Preventing Heatstroke in Pets

Symptoms of Heatstroke

If your pet is exposed to high temperatures for too long, they may experience heatstroke. Some common symptoms of heatstroke in pets include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and collapse. You may also notice that your pet's gums and tongue are bright red, and their body temperature is higher than normal.

 Prevent Overheating

To keep your pets safe from the heat, make sure they have access to plenty of shade and water. Along with shade, there must be plenty of air circulation. An enclosed doghouse might provide shade from the sun, but the temperature and air quality inside could be stifling.

Another fun way to keep a pet cool in the summer is to fill a small kiddie pool with water and make it available to them throughout the day. You can also provide them with cooling mats or towels to lie on.

I have a doggie door which allows my dogs and cat the opportunity to come into the air-conditioned house. If your pets are outside only, placing a fan on the porch or near their doghouse may offer relief from the heat. Maintain safety, of course.

If you need to take your pet outside during the hottest part of the day, try to keep walks and other exercise activities short. Avoid pavement or protect their paws with booties. For dog owners, a trip to the lake is a good way to provide exercise and a chance for both of you to cool off.

Immediate Actions

If you suspect that your pet is experiencing heatstroke, it's important to act quickly. Move your pet to a shaded area and provide them with plenty of fresh water to drink.

You can also place a cool, wet towel on your pet's body to help lower their body temperature. However, it's important not to use ice or extremely cold water, as this can cause your pet's body temperature to drop too quickly.

It's also important to seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect that your pet is experiencing heatstroke. Your veterinarian can provide additional treatment and support to help your pet recover.

Summer Pet Care Tips Specific to Country Living

Heatstroke and dehydration are not the only threats to keeping your pet healthy during the summer months. If you live in a country setting, your dogs and cats (horses, too) are likely to have access to areas of tall grasses and shrubs which harbor unfriendly insects. They may require more frequent bathing and checking of their hair and skin.

Summer care for pets may include adjustments to how and when they are fed.

And don’t forget, sunburns are not just a human experience. Exposed skin, especially light or pink colored skin, on our pets is just as susceptible to sunburn.

Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are more active in the summer, so it's crucial to use preventive measures. Regularly applying flea and tick treatments can keep these pests at bay. Consult your vet for recommendations on the best flea and tick prevention products for your pets. Options include topical treatments, collars, and oral medications.

Make it a habit to check your pets for fleas and ticks after they’ve been outside. Pay close attention to areas like ears, under the collar, and between the toes. For more information about managing the control of ticks, check out this post.

Beyond fleas and ticks, be aware of other summer parasites like mosquitoes, which can transmit heartworm. Keep your yard well-maintained by mowing the grass and removing leaf litter where pests thrive. Using pet-safe pest control products is another way to reduce the threat of unfriendly bugs.

Bathing Your Pets in the Summer

During summer, your pets might need to be bathed more often, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. For dogs, a bath every two to four weeks is usually sufficient. Cats typically groom themselves well, but if they get particularly dirty, a gentle bath might be necessary.

Use pet-specific shampoos that are gentle on their skin and free of harsh chemicals. Oatmeal-based shampoos are great for soothing irritated skin. Washing and rinsing with cool water can reduce body temperature and help your pet feel more comfortable.

Bath time is perfect for checking for fleas, ticks, and skin irritations.

After bathing, make sure to dry your pet as thoroughly as possible.  It may be necessary to keep him or her indoors or well supervised for a time, to keep them from rolling around in the dirt. A common practice for a wet pet.

Feeding Your Pets in the Summer

Just like us, pets might have different dietary needs in the summer. I prefer smaller, lighter meals when the weather gets hot. Our animals are the same. Consider feeding them smaller, more frequent meals to help with digestion and prevent overeating in the heat.

Incorporate water-rich foods like cucumbers or watermelon (without seeds) into their diet. These can help keep your pets hydrated.

To avoid heat stress during peak heat times, feed your pets during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

Sunburn and Other Summer Pet Health Concerns

Most people don’t realize animals can get sunburned. When they have the option to get out of direct sun exposure, most animals instinctively seek the shade. If you know your pet is going to have extended time in the sun, use pet-safe sunscreen on exposed skin, especially for pets with short or light-colored fur.

If you travel with your pet, it’s very important your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Summer is a great time for a vet check-up to catch any potential issues early. And while you are there, don’t forget to ask about flea, tick, and parasite prevention.

Spring and summer months can be active times for breeding. Pregnant and nursing animals may require additional attention to keep them healthy and comfortable when temperatures rise.

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors with your pets. By following these summer pet care tips, you can help ensure they stay cool, comfortable, and healthy all season long. Remember, a little extra care and attention go a long way in making sure your furry family has a safe and happy summer.

Do you have any summer pet care tips of your own? I would love to hear about them.

A PET CARE PLANNER is a convenient way to keep track of your pet’s health care needs and practices. Check out my printable PET CARE PLANNER with 20 pages covering all aspects of pet care.

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