If you live in California, you might have thought that it was still summer this last weekend. This recent heat wave has brought temperatures into the triple digits and reminded us that just like summer, heat can be dangerous to our pets. Unlike people, dogs and cats don’t perspire like we do. In order to cool off, they rely on panting and only minimally perspire thru their pads. Unfortunately, they are not as efficient at cooling off and can overheat quickly on a warm day, leading to heat exhaustion, also known as heat stroke. On a hot day, make sure your pets always have access to shade and water. Be extra careful with brachycephalic (short nose breeds) like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and my favorite, Boxers, as they are even more heat-intolerant than other dogs.
Heat Stroke Signs
How do you know if your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion? The signs of heat stroke are non-specific. Maintain a high index of suspicion and look for the following:
- Excessive panting
- Bright red tongue and gums
- Bloody diarrhea
As we all know, pets aim to please and never complain. While this is a noble quality, it can also get them in trouble. Pets will try their best to keep up with you even if they are exhausted. This can be a problem if you take your dog running when it is hot outside. Dogs, like people, can become overheated if they run in the hot midday sun, especially if they are not accustomed to running in those conditions. Running on concrete, asphalt or sand can also be a problem since these surfaces get very hot and can burn a dog’s pads. I recommend exercising with your pet in the morning or evening to avoid the possibility of overheating or pad burns. If you have to take your pet out during the day make sure the ground is not too hot.
Most people know they should not leave their pets unattended in a parked car when the weather is hot. What many do not realize is how quickly a park car becomes dangerously hot. Even if the temperature is only 85 degrees and you leave your car windows down, your car can heat up to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. To be safe, never leave your pet in a parked car for any period of time when the weather is warm. Why risk your faithful companion’s life? Leave them safely at home if you are going somewhere that doesn’t allow pets.
During this September heat wave, make sure you protect your pet from heat exhaustion by insuring they have access to shade and water at all times. Never leave them in a parked car or tied outside in the direct sun. Remember, pets are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion than us. Hopefully these safety tips will help keep your pets safe and cool.