The heat is on and, consequently, our pets are at risk for heat-related injuries. As the temperatures rise, pet owners must be mindful of the situations that put pets at risk and ways to minimize those risks. Stay informed and read on for some important facts you should know this summer.
Know the facts about heat and pets
Did you know that on an 80-degree day, a car’s interior can reach 110 degrees in only 20 minutes? Leaving your pet in a car on a hot day is never OK—not even with the windows cracked—and is illegal in some states. Avoid this situation by leaving your pets at home. Consult this American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) article for more information about pets in vehicles.
Know your environment
If your pet will be spending any amount of time outside on a hot day, consider his environment. He should have a constant source of cool, fresh water and shade. If you will be walking together on pavement or asphalt, ensure your pet’s sensitive paw pads will not get burned. Hold your open palm on the surface where you plan to walk for 7 to 10 seconds. Is it too hot for your hand? If the answer is “Yes,” it is too hot for your pet.
Know your pet
We should be mindful of all pets on hot days, but some animals are particularly sensitive to the heat. You must carefully watch any “flat-faced” (i.e., brachycephalic) breed of dog or cat, including Boston terriers, bulldogs, boxers, and pugs, and Persian and Himalayan cats. Older and overweight or obese pets require extra attention on hot days, as well. If your pet falls into any of these categories, keep him in your air-conditioned home on hot days, if possible. Refrain from shaving your pet, even if he has a thick, heavy coat, as fur protects your pet from the heat as well as the cold. You can clip the fur, but do not shave it completely. Animals with lighter fur coats, or white or light-colored fur, as well as hairless breeds, are more susceptible to sunburn. Be especially mindful of these pets in the sun and discuss sunscreen options with our veterinary team.
Know when to head out, and when your pet should stay home
If you regularly exercise outdoors with your pet, choose a time of day when it isn’t too hot—typically, early morning or late evening. Take frequent rest stops and have plenty of fresh water for yourself and your pooch.
Know heatstroke signs in pets
Most of our four-legged family members have minimal sweat glands and must keep themselves cool by panting. This also makes them more susceptible to heatstroke, a severe form of heat exhaustion that comes on quickly and causes rapid deterioration. Keep watch for any of the following heatstroke signs:
- Excessive panting in dogs; open-mouth breathing in cats
- Core temperature above 104 degrees
- Red gums
If you notice any of these signs, the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center states that “rapid intervention prior to seeking veterinary attention can be life-saving.” They suggest moving your pet to a cool environment, hosing him off with cool—never cold—water, and giving him fresh, cool water to drink. Take your pet’s temperature, and continue cooling him until his body temperature reaches 103 degrees. Then, contact us or take your pet to your nearest veterinary emergency hospital immediately.
We hope you can enjoy the weather with your pets and stay safe this summer. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about keeping your pet safe this summer.