Heat Safety For Pets
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Since we’re still in the full heat of the summer season, with a heat wave coming our way in Salem for the next few days, we’d like to share some tips on keeping your fur babies safe from the sun!
Never leave your pet locked in a hot car. Not for a minute, not if you think you’ll be back in time, not even if you have a fan going or the window cracked or you’ve left them with water. It takes only minutes for your car to reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees F/38 degrees C, which can cause heat stoke, irreversible organ damage, and even fatalities.
Fans do not work to keep dogs cool the same way they work for people. Dogs cool themselves by panting, not sweating, and because of this, there is only a constant circulation of heat. Dogs do sweat through the pads of their feet, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the heat.
Limit your pets’ outdoors time in the heat, especially if they don’t have adequate shelter. Dog houses are not advised because there’s no circulation of air and they trap heat, much like a car. If you can, make sure they have a tree, tarp, or other covering for shade. You can also give them a cooling mat or towel soaked with water, or even a kid’s pool they can splash in. It’s also advised to add ice to their water and keep refilling as needed.
If you’re taking your dog out for exercise, try to go during the early morning or the cooler part of the evening (for your sake, too!) Dogs and cats who have a short snout or smushy face (pugs and bulldogs for example) have more trouble breathing. It’s also advised to limit exercise in the heat if your dog has respiratory issues or heart disease.
Be mindful of concrete and pavement temperatures! The pads of your dogs’ and cats’ paws can be burned if walking on hot asphalt, stone, or concrete. To check if it’s too hot to walk on, put your hand or foot against the sidewalk - if it’s too hot for your touch, it’s also too hot for your pet!
Signs of heat stroke include: a deep red or purple tongue, heavy panting, drooling, rapid heart rate, weakness, collapsing, inability to be roused, a dry nose and gums, nausea, and vomiting. In cats, it’s very similar - especially panting.
If you feel your pet is overheated and showing concerning symptoms, please bring them to a veterinary hospital right away. Cooling down your pet too fast or for too long can easily result in hypothermia if the process is not carefully monitored since their heat regulation does not work the same way a human’s does.
Don't forget about your other furry friends that live outdoors (such as rabbits, horses, chickens, etc.)! Make sure they also have access to plenty of shade and cold water!
Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine! ️