Caring For Your Pets in the Hot Weather

Here are some preparedness tips to consider when caring for your pets in the hot weather:

Never leave pets in a car, even with the windows down.  The inside of a car can reach temperatures in excess of 150 degrees in a matter of minutes. This is even when it is only 70 degrees outside.  Your car is an oven and will literally cook your pet. Take them with you.

If possible, pets should be kept indoors during excessive heat. Keep the ac on – it can also get extremely hot inside your home or apartment.  Too hot for your pet while you go to work. Never turn the AC off while you go to work, put it on 78-80 if you have to but never turn it completely off.

If keeping a pet outside, make sure that pets have adequate shelter from the sun and plenty of fresh water at all times. Do not leave your pet tied outside or on a run as they may get tangled and then be unable to get to a shady spot.  It is never a good idea to tie your pets outdoors in any weather but just in case anyone is even thinking about it.

Plan outside activities with your pets during the cooler parts of the day:  early morning and evening.  Limit the outside activity of your pets during the heat of the day.

 During hot weather sidewalks, pavement and beach sand radiate excessive amounts of heat and can be too hot for the pads of your pet’s paws.  Consider that if it is too hot for you to walk barefoot, it is too hot for your pet as well. When you are running with your pet remember that you are wearing sneakers so check the sidewalk with your bare feet.  If it is hot for you, it is too hot to run your pet on it. Leave him/her home and enjoy your run.  Then, take them to a nice grassy area when it is cooler and play fetch for a few minutes to exercise them instead.

Take extra precautions in hot weather for dogs that are elderly, overweight or snub-nosed. Boxer, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Lhasas, Shih Tzus, Peekaneses, etc, have a hard enough time breathing on a good day! They really cannot handle the extra stress. 

Always have a disaster plan in place for you, your family and your pets. That is, in case of a natural or other disaster, where are you going to take your pet?  where are you going to meet the rest of your family? what are you going to take with you? is your pet microchipped so if you are separated, you are certain to be reunited?

Remember, WHEN YOU GO, THEY GO.  DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM.  If you are told to evacuate, take your pets with you.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. This is extremely important as first responders will save lives, any life, at a considerable risk to themselves.  You owe it to these remarkable modern day heroes to always take your pet with you or arrange for shelter ahead of time.

Do not take your pets to the beach! Salt water is dangerous when drunk, so you should always bring fresh water for your pet and offer it often any way, but like any other place in the hot summer, the beach is too hot for your pet. Take them during the cool part of the day, if you must, and always bring plenty of water for them to drink.

Learn how to take your dogs temperature rectally…You see your vet do it all the time.  Ask them to show you, if you have any concerns.  All you need is a thermometer (the ones that beep are best) and some KY lubricating gel.  Mark the thermometer with your pet’s name so no human inadvertently sticks it in their mouth by mistake (Don’t be so grossed out…I bet you get plenty of doggy kisses!!).  Take your pet’s temperature so that you know what is normal.  Anything above 104 is abnormal any time.  Heat stroke temperatures are often above 106.

What to do if you suspect your pet may have heat stroke

The signs of heat stroke are:

– body temperature above 104

– listlessness, stumbling, seizures

– dry gums, blue tongue

– difficulty breathing, short shallow breaths

– collapse, comatose, inability to be awaken.

If you see any of these signs:

1) Take your pet’s temperature

2) Dampen the entire dog with cold but not ice cold water. Dampen towels and lay over dog to keep them wet and place fan over dog to enhance cooling. Do not immerse your dog in water.

3) Poor alcohol in between all toes front and back on the under surface of the paws. This allow cooling by evaporation which is the only way the animals can loose heat from their bodies.

4) Continue to measure temperature and discontinue all cooling efforts once temperature reaches 103. Over cooling and too fast cooling (icing) can lead to their own set of issues which is why it is important to know where you started and where you are at.  Your vet will want to know this as well.

5) Take pet to the vet immediately and preferably while you are doing all the above, start moving the pet to the car and drive to the nearest local emergency hospital as heat stroke can lead to organ damage.  These pets need iv fluid support, intensive monitoring and testing until they are stable.

I hope this information will help you prevent this from ever happening to your pet.  It is an aweful experience for you as well as life threatening to your pet.

Enjoy the summer!!!!



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