With summer just around the corner, so are high temperatures and humidity, both of which can cause heatstroke for our pets. The good news is we can take preventative measures to keep our pets safe.
Provide ample water: Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so they need access to ample fresh and cool water. Because water evaporates faster in the summer, it’s a good idea to keep several bowls of water throughout your home. You should also carry water with you when you take your pet on walks on warm days. Whenever and wherever you make water available to your pets, consider adding ice to keep it cool
Provide sufficient shade: Pets need a way to get out of the heat. By closing curtains, you can limit the amount of sun and heat that enters your home during the day. Outside, trees and tarps work for shade; a doghouse will get too hot unless it’s made of wood.
Don’t rely on a fan: Dogs and cats respond differently to heat than we do, so fans aren’t as effective for them. When the temperature is high, a fan blows hot air around. Because our pets sweat primarily through their feet, fans just blow hot air on our pets rather than cooling them off.
Brush cats but don’t shave dogs: Regularly brushing your cat can sometimes help keep your cat cool. For example, matted hair traps heat and so a well-groomed coat will help improve circulation. Never shave your dog. The layers of their coats protect them from excessive heat and sunburn.
Cool your pet inside and out: Whip up cool tasty treats to help your pet beat the heat by making ice cubes with your pet’s favorite food inside or by stuffing a puzzle feeder and popping it in the freezer. A cooling body wrap, vest, or mat will also help keep your pet cool.
Be careful when taking your pet for a walk: On hot days, take pets for strolls during the cooler parts of the day, or in the early morning and late evening. Walk on the grass if possible; asphalt heats up quickly and can burn your pet’s paws. Also, keep the walks short to minimize their exposure to the heat.
Never leave your pets in a parked car: In warm weather, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. According to the Humane Society of the United States, on an 85˚day, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly opened can reach 102˚ within 10 minutes. A temperature this high can lead to fatal heatstroke.
Watch the humidity: It’s important to remember that humidity can affect our pets too. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they won’t be able to cool themselves and they could get heatstroke.
Know the signs of heatstroke: Some signs of heatstroke are glazed eyes, heavy panting, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, profuse salivation, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, dizziness, lack of coordination, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, hemorrhages in the gums or under skin, and temperature over 104˚.
If you suspect heatstroke, get your pet to a vet as soon as possible. While you wait, move your pet to a cooler area, place wet towels on your pet, and offer water. Don’t force your pet to drink.