When it’s hot out, you know to wear sunscreen, stay indoors during peak hours, and always drink plenty of water – but what about your pet? Pets can’t tell us exactly how they’re feeling, so it’s important to take precautionary measures during the extreme heat of summer. We’ve seen record-breaking heat in the past few weeks and want to remind all pet owners to take extra care to keep their pets safe and healthy in high temperatures. Here are a few easy ways to help your pets make it through summer safely:
Pets can get heat exhaustion and heatstroke just like humans. Dogs in particular, who love to run around and play, are prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have the ability to produce sweat the same way we do. (Dogs, for example, only produce sweat in areas not covered by their fur).
Heat exhaustion symptoms (the early stages when a dog begins overheating) include ailments like vomiting, rapid panting, diarrhea, and a reddening of the skin inside the ears. Heatstroke is the most dangerous hot weather condition. Full heatstroke can cause organ failure, brain damage, seizures, blindness, and even death.
Simply put, certain breeds and conditions can make your pet more susceptible to heat sensitivity. Pets with short snouts like pugs, bulldogs, and Persians can’t breathe as easily in high temperatures (Persians also have thicker coats that can make the heat uncomfortable). Factors like obesity, old age, and heart disease can also put your pet at a higher risk of developing heat exhaustion.
Don’t allow your pet to stand on hot surfaces, which can burn sensitive paws. Limit walks during peak daylight hours, and take advantage of grass and other landscaped areas rather than asphalt (just remember to bring a bag and pick up after your pet!). You can also trim your pets – we recommend using a groomer – to remove excess fur that can contribute to overheating. Above all, never, ever leave your pet in a parked car. Parked cars – even in the shade, and even for just a few minutes – can quickly turn into an oven-like environment with extreme temperatures that can irrevocably harm your pet’s health.
At the first sign of heat exhaustion, work quickly to bring your pet inside to a cool area near a fan, offer them fresh water, and dampen their skin with lukewarm water – let the water air-dry to quickly lower your pet’s body temperature. Even if your pet seems OK, seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible to prevent further sickness.