Summer Heat

Help your pets keep their coolby Therese on June 13, 2011

Many parts of the country are dealing with record breaking heat, and it’s not even summer yet! My air conditioning has been running overtime, and when I’m out, I don’t stay out long. It’s just too darn hot. My dogs don’t even want to stay out too long, but I wouldn’t let them even if they did want to.

Summer Heat

Dogs and cats don’t deal with the heat like we do. In really hot weather, we get all drippy with sweat. It may not be pretty but it helps get some of the heat out of our bodies so we cool off. Cats and dogs don’t have a few million sweat glands all over their bodies like we do though. The only way they can cool themselves is through their mouths. This means it’s not good enough to judge how hot your pet is by how hot you are. They can get overheated and develop heat stroke much faster than we can. So if you have pets it’s important to know the signs of heat stroke, what to do if you suspect it, and most importantly how to prevent it.

How to Avoid Heat Stroke

  • Keep your pets indoors, where it’s air conditioned if possible.
  • When you exercise your dog, keep her activity level to a minimum. Remember that she won’t know when to slow down or stop. She may play until she develops heat stroke and is in danger.
  • Exercise dogs in the early morning or after the sun goes down. Stay off the cement or blacktop when possible, as the heat will burn their feet.
  • Make sure your pets have access to cool, clean water at all times.
  • Provide all outdoor pets with well ventilated, shady areas.
  • Never leave your pet in an unattended car! It can heat up to over 100 degrees within minutes. This will likely cause heatstroke, and even death.
  • Don’t let your dogs ride in the back of your pickup truck. The hot air and heat reflecting from the floor/sides can make your dog overheat faster than you might think. (For many reasons, this is never a good idea, regardless of the weather!)

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Excessive panting
  • Tongue that is bright red or dark in color
  • Clammy gums and/or tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizures

If You Suspect Your Cat or Dog Has Heat Stroke

  • Get your pet out of the heat as soon as possible.
  • Cool her off with cool (not cold!) water. Wrap her in a cool, wet cloth or pour cool water on her starting with her neck and the pads of her feet.
  • Call your vet or take your pet to the nearest emergency clinic immediately

Heat stroke can result in death if not treated quickly enough, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent it from happening. Watch your pets closely in hot weather, and know that very young or very old pets, those with health problems, active dogs, and short nosed breeds are especially prone to heat stroke.