Break out the swimsuits and sunscreen! Summer’s hot and humid days have arrived! While you may enjoy the rising temperatures, these conditions can be dangerous for your pet. Our team at Premier Pet Hospital wants to help by providing do’s and don’ts to protect your pet from the heat.
DO schedule a wellness screening for your pet
Pre-existing health conditions can make your pet more sensitive to hot, humid conditions, but pets are excellent at masking illnesses. Schedule a wellness screening, so we can ensure your pet is healthy and ready for the hot, summer temperatures. Other conditions that put your pet at higher risk for feeling the heat include:
- Obesity — Obesity is a common problem affecting pets in the United States, and the extra weight can make your pet less heat-tolerant.
- Brachycephalic syndrome — Brachycephalic pets, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Boston terriers, have characteristics that impede airflow, and put them at increased risk for overheating and respiratory problems.
- Advanced age — Pets older than 7 years of age are typically more sensitive to extreme temperatures.
If your pet is at high risk for heat related issues, ensure they remain in an air-conditioned area on hot, humid days, except for short forays outside for bathroom breaks.
DON’T underestimate how heat can affect your pet
Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency, and your heat-affected pet can face life-threatening consequences. A pet’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees, and heatstroke can occur when a pet’s temperature rises above 104, causing widespread inflammation throughout the body. Body systems affected include:
- Cardiovascular — The pet’s heart rate initially increases to send blood to the extremities for cooling, but when these measures fail, the heart cannot properly circulate blood, and the pet can go into shock.
- Lungs — Lung tissue damage from extreme heat causes respiratory distress.
- Kidneys — Dehydration and damage from the heat can lead to kidney failure.
- Gastrointestinal — Intestinal wall damage can allow bacteria to leach into the pet’s bloodstream.
- Nervous system — Brain swelling, bleeding, and necrosis can occur.
- Coagulation — Disseminated intravascular coagulation can occur, and cause excessive bleeding throughout the body.
DO know heatstroke signs in pets
Heatstroke signs in pets include excessive panting, drooling, exercise intolerance, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and seizures, and you should take the following steps if your pet shows any signs:
- Move your pet — Take your pet to a cool, well-ventilated area, and, if possible, direct a fan toward them.
- Hydrate your pet — If your pet is conscious, offer them water, but don’t try to pour the water in their mouth.
- Monitor your pet — If possible, take your pet’s temperature, so you can report how high their temperature reached.
- Cool your pet — Use lukewarm water or cool towels to cool your pet—never use ice or ice water, which can cause shock.
Once you start the cooling process, take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your pet seems to recover once their temperature starts to decrease, they still need a veterinary evaluation to ensure they have no internal damage. Your pet’s prognosis depends on the temperature they reach, and the length of time their temperature is elevated.
DON’T leave your pet in an unattended vehicle
Temperatures inside a parked vehicle rise quickly, putting your pet at risk. Parking in the shade and cracking the windows don’t keep the temperatures at a safe level, and while you may think you will be right back, you don’t want to run the risk of being detained, and your pet suffering. If your pet is not welcome at a location, leave them at home, or run the errand on a different day.
DO keep your pet hydrated
Dehydration predisposes your pet to heatstroke, as well as other serious health issues. Ensure your pet has access to fresh water, and take bottled water and a bowl when you are outdoors, so you can offer them frequent drinks.
DON’T exercise your pet on hot, humid days
Avoid excessive exercise on hot, humid days, especially if your pet is not acclimated to the weather. Pets can take up to two months to fully acclimate to warmer temperatures, and they need time to adjust before you can expect them to go for a long run, or play frisbee for an extended period. Pets don’t sweat like humans, and therefore have a more difficult time regulating their body temperature—be aware of this fact when enjoying time outside with your pet.
DO protect your pet’s paws
Paved surfaces can measure 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature, causing burns to your pet’s sensitive paws. Walk on grassy surfaces or in shady areas when out with your pet, or if that is not possible, protect their paws with well-fitted booties.
These do’s and don’ts will help keep your pet safe during the hot, humid summer days. If you would like to schedule a wellness exam for your pet, contact our team at Premier Pet Hospital so we can ensure they are ready for the heat.