Summertime and Your Pet

Hot weather creates additional hazards for your pet. Unlike humans, animals can't change their wardrobe or turn on the air conditioning like humans do to keep comfortable. Follow these common sense tips to prevent a heat-related pet emergency.

Besides the obvious... provide shelter and shade, fresh water, and good grooming, here are some tips to help keep your pet cool in the summer heat.

  • Be aware of ways that your pet could accidentally be caught without shade - is your pet on a tether and could potentially get caught out in the full sun? Will the shade be available all day? While the shelter provides shade, is it hotter inside the shelter? If possible, utilize shade from trees in addition to the dog house; assuring that there is sufficient shade all day long.
  • If your pet is left indoors, is air conditioning available? Will the house stay cool through the heat of the day? Basement access will provide a naturally cool area to keep your pet comfortable.
  • For indoor or outdoor animals, a cool water "bath" before leaving for work will provide additional cooling for your pet.
  • Is fresh, cool water available at all times? Can your pet spill the water source? Consider installing an automatic pet waterer.
  • Do not plan long walks or go jogging in the heat of the day. This can be life-threatening for some dogs. Plan exercise and outdoor activities in the relative coolness of morning and evening time. Be sure to bring along fresh water or a collapsible drinking bowl to allow your pet to get a cool drink when needed.
  • NEVER leave your pet in the car, even it it is only for a "quick errand"! This is very dangerous, even on days that are only mildly warm. If you see a pet locked in a car, please call local animal authorities immediately, you may save a life!


The Signs Of Heat Stroke In Pets

Imagine not being able to shed your winter clothes on a hot summer day, and your only means of cooling off was by panting. Dogs and cats have little choice when it comes to keeping cool in summer heat. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke will allow for prompt treatment; and time is of the essence when treating this condition.
Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to):


  • body temperatures of 40-43°C
  • excessive panting
  • dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • sticky or dry tongue and gums
  • staggering, stupor or seizures
  • bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • coma
  • death

If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately!

  • Find some shsade. Get your pet out of the heat.
  • Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.)
  • Cool wet cloths on feet and around head.
  • Do not aid body cooling below 40°C - some animals can actually get hypothermic, too cold.
  • Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your veterinarian, but do not force ice or water to your pet.

Just because your animal is cooled and "appears" OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are definitely affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this. There is also a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke that can be fatal.

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