True or False: Pet Heat Safety Edition

While Vancouver is known more for its frigid winters than its blazing summers, the warmer months can be hot enough to make your furry pal uncomfortable when outdoors. Because of our climate, you likely are more familiar with cold weather pet-safety tips for your pet, but learning how to keep your four-legged friend safe and cool in hot weather is equally important. To help spread the word about heat safety for pets, our Ambleside Animal Hospital team shatters falsehoods about pets’ ability to cope with hot weather in the following true-or-false statements.

True or false: Pets are animals, so they’re designed to handle extreme conditions

False: While certain breeds, such as livestock guardian dogs, can better handle outdoor conditions, many breeds have become so modified from their wild ancestors that they need their owner’s assistance to remain safe and cool outside. As a domesticated house pet, your English bulldog is a far cry from their wolfy predecessor, and needs close attention outdoors to ensure their safety.

True or false: Pets instinctively know they’re on the verge of overheating

False: You may think your pet would realize they are becoming too hot and need to rest and cool off, but many high-drive dogs will not take a break, despite the hot conditions. If your pooch will fetch a ball until they literally drop, watch closely for overheating signs, and force them to rest if they pant heavily, drool excessively, or become disoriented and weak.

True or false: A pet’s paw pads are impervious to heat

False: Your four-legged friend’s paw pads may seem tough and virtually indestructible, but the pads are actually layers of skin composed of collagen and fibers that cover fat pads, and can easily burn as your pet walks across scorching hot asphalt. To protect your pet’s sensitive pads, fit them with booties, stick to shaded sidewalks, or hike over grassy or dirt trails. Check the asphalt’s heat by placing the back of your hand on the surface. If you cannot hold your hand down for 10 seconds, the ground is too hot for your pet.

True or false: Shaving your pet to the skin is the ideal summer haircut

False: You may think that the less fur your pet has, the cooler they feel. While a brisk breeze sweeping over their skin would be cooling, your pet’s fur coat is designed to regulate their body temperature according to the weather. During the summer, the fur insulates your pet’s body, trapping the air closest to the skin and keeping them at the ideal body temperature, and protects them from the sun’s harsh ultraviolet radiation.

Regular brushing, regardless of hair coat length, is the best grooming technique for keeping your pet cool in the summer. Regular brushing removes dead fur, prevents mats that trap heat close to the body, and lifts the fur to provide insulation. A minor trimming of long fur can help your pet stay cool, but ensure you leave at least an inch of fur for sun protection and insulation.

True or false: Icy water is the best way to cool off your pet

False: If your pet seems to be overheating, never submerge them in ice-cold water, which causes the blood vessels in their limbs to constrict, shunting overheated blood to their organs, and hastening heatstroke development. Instead, run cool water over your pet, ensuring their head is elevated and out of the water. Also, do not wrap them in wet towels, which will prohibit evaporation. Point a fan set on high at your pet to encourage faster heat dissipation, and monitor their temperature as they cool off. Stop cooling when your pet’s temperature reaches 103.5 degrees, because you can inadvertently cool them too much.

True or false: Heatstroke can happen to any pet

True: Any pet can fall victim to heatstroke if you don’t take proper precautions. However, some pets can overheat more rapidly in the same conditions. Take special care to prevent heatstroke in pets who are:

  • Pediatric
  • Geriatric
  • Brachycephalic (e.g., pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers)
  • Double-coated (e.g., huskies, malamutes, chows)
  • Overweight or obese

Pets with cardiac or respiratory conditions will also struggle to remain cool, and endocrine disorders can interfere with your pet’s thermoregulatory abilities.

Heatstroke in pets can rapidly prove fatal without prompt action. If your four-legged friend appears to be suffering heat-related stress or heatstroke, contact our Ambleside Animal Hospital team immediately, because your pet needs a prompt veterinary evaluation and treatment.

p>When a person has fear and anxiety they want to overcome, they can work with a professional to get to the root of the problem, address challenges, and make positive changes. Unfortunately, your sweet pet does not have this luxury, and they rely on you to identify and soothe their fears, which is a difficult task when you don’t speak the same language. Approximately 67% of dogs and many cats in the United States suffer from noise aversion, but the condition largely goes undiagnosed, leaving many pets to suffer in silence. The fear and anxiety an affected pet experiences when they are triggered is similar to a human’s panic attack. You can’t eliminate noise from your pet’s life, but you can help them cope with their fear of loud sounds. Our Ambleside Animal Hospitalteam explains this common condition and how to manage your four-legged friend’s unnecessary stress.

What is noise aversion in pets?

A pet with noise aversion experiences fear or anxiety in response to particular sounds. Fireworks and thunderstorms cause fear in many pets, but these noisy events aren’t the only offenders. Pets who are sensitive to one sound or loud event generally fear other unsettling noises, which can have a significant impact on their quality of life. Noise-averse pets can be triggered by the following common everyday sounds:

  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Construction work
  • Heavy traffic
  • Hair dryers
  • Laundry appliances
  • Shrieking children
  • Yelling adults
  • Loud TVs or radios

What causes noise aversion in pets?

Veterinarians do not fully understand noise aversion’s cause. However, your pet may be sensitive to loud sounds because of the following factors:

  • Genetics — Some dogs from the herding breeds, such as border collies, may have an inherent sensitivity (i.e., a genetic predisposition) to noise. Hunting dogs are bred to be unbothered by loud sounds, so they are typically less likely to react to loud noises such as gunfire.
  • Lack of socialization — The socialization period for puppies and kittens occurs during their first few months of life, the best time to help shape their world outlook most effectively. If your pet was not exposed to unfamiliar sights and sounds when they were extremely young, your furry pal may develop a noise aversion.
  • Past negative associations — Past experiences can also play a role in noise aversion development. A pet that has had a traumatic experience they associate with loud noises, such as being trapped during a thunderstorm or being near an explosion, is more likely to develop noise aversion to these and other sounds.

What are the signs of noise aversion in pets?

Pets with noise aversion may exhibit a range of behaviors, depending on their condition’s severity. While a pet who suffers from generalized anxiety may at any time exhibit panic signs, a pet with noise sensitivity will demonstrate anxiety signs during or after a loud event. If your pet has a noise aversion, they may exhibit these signs:

  • Heavy panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pacing or restless behavior
  • Shaking, trembling, shivering
  • Yawning
  • Drooling
  • Vocalizing
  • Hiding
  • House soiling
  • Attempted escape
  • Destructive behavior (e.g., chewing, digging, especially near windows and doors)

How can noise aversion be managed in pets?

Taking steps to manage your pet’s noise aversion through medication, environmental management, and training can help reduce their fear and keep them calm throughout a noisy event. Follow these tips to help mitigate your pet’s fear:

  • Ask your veterinarian about medication — Anti-anxiety medications can help calm your pet without sedating them, and can be beneficial for pets with any degree of noise aversion. Your veterinarian will determine the best medication for your pet, which should be administered before the anxiety-triggering event.
  • Limit your pet’s exposure — Everyday loud noises are unavoidable, but you can limit your pet’s exposure by creating a safe and comfortable environment to which they can retreat during a loud event, such as a quiet, windowless, interior room. Make the area as comfortable as possible by providing a bed, toys, and treats.
  • Calming pheromones — For additional calming support, provide your pet with a collar or diffuser that emits soothing pheromones to keep their anxiety at a manageable level.
  • Dress your pet in a calming vest — A calming vest’s gentle, constant pressure helps alleviate your pet’s anxiety. Putting the garment on your pet before a noisy event starts is best.

While noise aversion cannot be cured, these proactive strategies can help keep your noise-averse pet calm and relaxed when their sound triggers are unavoidable. If you have questions about managing your pet’s noise aversion, schedule an appointment with our Ambleside Animal Hospital team.