Common Ground: Pets need extra care in summer

Our pet guinea pigs usually stay inside the screened porch in the daytime. However, with temperatures soaring into the 90s lately, we’ve moved the guineas onto the more shaded areas of the porch or carried them into the house.

Pet owners do have to pay more than the usual amount of attention toward keeping their pets cool, hydrated and fed this summer, said Perry Greco, store manager for Greco’s Pet Supplies.

Without ample shade or enough water for pets to drink, Greco said disaster can and does often strike during the summer season.

“When it’s this hot, that’s when you make sure they have plenty of water,” he said. Otherwise, pets can become overheated or dehydrated.

Eating and drinking habits among pets also change in the summer, Greco said. I’ve noticed our guineas are sipping more from their water bottle and eating a lot less during the heat of the day. Greco said the pattern is a common one among pets.

Pets do eat, drink and act differently during hotter and cooler parts of the day, he said.

“When it’s real hot, animals are more likely to perform and eat better later in the evening,” he said.

Greco’s advice to pet owners is to watch and be aware of their pet’s reaction to the heat.

“In the summer, be more thoughtful with feeding them in the evening rather than in the day and giving them sufficient water,” he said.

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends checking your pet’s water bowl several times a day to be sure it’s full.

Greco said sometimes owners will forget to increase their pet’s water supply during the summer months, leading to dehydration or worse, heatstroke. He said the peak performance time for pets in the summer is during the cool part of the morning or in the evening. The most hot and humid part of the day is not the time to expect a pet to be at its peak, Greco said.

It is equally as important to keep pets shaded during the hotter parts of the day. He advised me to keep the guinea pigs protected from the sun, even under a screened porch.

And while it is tempting for pet owners to run errands while bringing their pets along, leaving a pet inside of a hot car where temperatures can reach upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit in minutes can be fatal.

Older pets, sickly and very young pets should also stay out of the sun on extremely hot days because they have a hard time regulating their body temperature, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.

Sadly, many of us can probably recall friends, family or neighbors who have lost pets under unfortunate circumstances. Greco said some of the most common concerns he fields from pet owners during the summer are problems with overheated pets.

“Keep them hydrated,” he warned. “You can’t have enough water for them to drink.”

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at