Keep Your Pets Safe in the Heat

The summer months can be uncomfortable, even dangerous for pets and people alike. This post from the Humane Society shares tips to keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow these tips to make sure your entire family stays comfortable when the heat is on, even when the power isn’t.

Practice Basic Summer Safety

Never leave your pets in a parked car.

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. For example, on an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degress within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car by taking action or calling for help.

Watch the humidity.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, pets are simply unable to cool themselves. Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there’s a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should never be above 104 degrees.

Limit exercise on hot days.

Be cautious when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration in accordance with the temperature. Consider limiting exercise to early morning or late evening hours, and avoid hot asphalt to prevent your dog’s paws from getting burnt. Always bring water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Don’t rely on a fan.

Pets respond differently to heat than humans do, and fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people. Make sure your dog is in a comfortably cooled environment to prevent him or her from overheating.

Provide ample shade and water.

Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from the heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cool water. In heat waves, add ice to the water whenever possible. A dog house does not provide relief from heat – in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out.

Homemade frozen dog treats can be a great way to cool your dog down on a hot day in addition to cool water. Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat.

Watch for signs of heatstroke.

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Warning signs are heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Some breeds of dogs have a harder time breathing in extreme heat, such as boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles. Beware that risk of heat stroke is higher for animals that are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have a heart or respiratory disease.

How to treat a pet suffering heatstroke:

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest, or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes and take her directly to a veterinarian.

Prepare for power outages.

Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.