Summer in North Dakota can get pretty hot, and it’s important to make sure our furry friends stay safe and comfortable.

Did you know that pets with longer or darker fur, as well as those with flat or pushed-in faces like pugs or Persian cats, can have a tougher time managing the heat? Plus, older pets, those who are overweight, or ones with certain medical conditions are at a higher risk for heat stroke.

Pets Can Get Sunburns

Another thing many pet owners might not realize is that pets can get sunburned too! Luckily, there are special sunscreens available just for them. Michael San Filippo, a spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), points this out and also gives some advice about summer haircuts.

Even though hot weather might make you think your pet needs a haircut, be careful. San Filippo says you shouldn't shave breeds with a "double coat" (like golden retrievers, Pomeranians, and huskies). Their coats actually help protect them from the heat, and shaving can make them more likely to overheat and get sunburned.

Keep Them Occupied

It's also important to keep your pets mentally and physically stimulated, even if it's too hot for their usual outdoor activities. If you have a yard, why not set up a kiddie pool in a shady spot or a sprinkler for your pet to run through? You can also splash your dog with a garden hose – just make sure the water is cool and they don't drink too much of it, which can cause vomiting.

If staying inside is the best option, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep your pet busy. Try a game of hallway fetch or give them some food puzzles to solve. Keeping them entertained will help them stay happy and healthy all summer long.

Here are some more tips from the ASPCA to protect your pets from the heat:

1. Provide Plenty of Water: Always make sure your pets have access to fresh, cool water. Dehydration can happen quickly in the heat, so check their water bowl often and refill it as needed.

2. Offer Shade and Shelter: If your pets spend time outside, ensure they have a shaded area to retreat to. A dog house or a covered porch can provide much-needed relief from the sun. For added comfort, consider a cooling mat or fan to help them stay cool.

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3. Avoid Hot Pavement: Pavement, asphalt, and sand can get extremely hot and burn your pet’s paws. Walk your pets early in the morning or later in the evening when the ground is cooler, and try to stick to grassy areas whenever possible.

4. Never Leave Pets in a Hot Car: This cannot be stressed enough—never leave your pets in a parked car, even for a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can skyrocket in a short time, leading to heatstroke or even death. If you see a dog in a parked car this summer, the Humane Society suggests asking nearby businesses to make an announcement over the loudspeaker. If you can't find the owner, call the local police or animal control on their non-emergency number and wait for help to arrive.


5. Keep Indoor Spaces Cool: Make sure your home stays cool during the hottest parts of the day. Use fans, air conditioning, or open windows to create a comfortable environment for your pets.

6. Limit Exercise: On especially hot days, reduce the amount of exercise your pets get. Too much physical activity in the heat can lead to overheating. Opt for shorter, less intense walks and play sessions during cooler parts of the day.

7. Watch for Signs of Overheating: Keep an eye out for symptoms of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, or collapse. If you notice any of these signs, move your pet to a cooler area immediately and contact your vet.  Also, if you see your cat panting or open-mouth breathing, get it to the vet as soon as possible.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your pets stay safe, healthy, and happy during the North Dakota summer. Leave your pets at home if possible when you need to go out and about.

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