It’s summer time again and that means going out for some fun in the sun! Except it’s not as easy as slapping on sunscreen when it comes to our pets. But that’s not to say that our precious balls of fluff can’t have their own fun. Of course they can! That’s what we’re here for: to give you a quick rundown of things you can do to keep your pet active and safe while out and about under the sun.

One thing that is a big factor when it comes to taking your pets out is the time. Most people know that late in the afternoon, say past four, is a good time to go out to avoid the blistering heat. That’s all well and good, but what if the afternoon isn’t an ideal time?

It might be better to have an early morning walk. Anywhere between five to eight in the morning is a good time frame to avoid the intense summer heat that could hurt your pet more than you. Remember, our pets have more hair on their bodies and their skin is more sensitive than ours. If walking around in a plain shirt and pants already feels too much for us, imagine what it must be like for them to walk around the sun in what could pass for winter wear for some dogs. And their paw pads aren’t invincible!

Although, if evening walks are better for all parties in involved, anywhere between six in the evening up to even one in the morning is a perfectly suitable time to ensure that the humid air is not a problem (but do watch out for any stray summer showers in the evening because those could be a problem).

A suggestion given by a concerned dog owner when asked about taking their dog out was that, if it was an absolute must to go out during the day, they would sometimes touch the concrete first to check if it was too hot. “Doggie paws are really sensitive,” they said of their habit of checking the pavement. We suggest using this method only if you’re absolutely certain you need to take the dog out and there is no other alternative. And if you do decide to go through with this method, to have some wet wipes handy (nobody knows what’s on our pavements and nobody really wants to know).

A hack for making a quick toy that will keep your cat occupied is putting a couple of 10 cent coins inside a used toiler paper roll and plugging the ends. The roll will move around on its own and make noise that will attract your cat and entice it to start playing. It’s not perfect but it’s a start if your cat is tired of things like static playthings or being led around by a laser pointer.

But if your cat is more of an outdoors type, remember to keep an eye on them at all times if there happen to be other animals around. It shouldn’t be much of a problem going out to parks unless you somehow manage to end up in a dog park, then it would be best to book it and look for some place else to go.

If you have a cat that is used to collars and used to a having a leash (or if you’ve conveniently trained them to be used to these) then taking it on walks around the neighborhood or to parks or even on hiking trips is a fun outdoor activity that will keep both you and your kitty active.

Overall, aside from being physically active during the summer, it’s important to remember to keep your pets cool and hydrated during these heated months. It does help to trim your pet’s fur if necessary (don’t shave everything; that will be a big mistake. Ask your veterinarian or groomer!). Giving your pet a summer cut when it gets grossly hot helps a whole lot.

Aside from that, it’s a good practice to always have fresh, cool water at the ready to prevent dehydration (you should also bring some for yourself and not just for your pet; nobody wants pet owners getting a heat stroke). And remember, don’t stay out in the sun too long. If you start to feel like death from the heat, imagine that your pet is feeling that but at double the effect.

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s March 2018 issue.