The summer’s heat can be enjoyable for your pet as long as you know how to help them cool down. Like people, pets need to stay cool while outdoors when the temperature and humidity levels rise. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and humidity can cause your pet to overheat quickly, which can lead to heat exhaustion and life-threatening heatstroke. Learn how to help keep your pet cool and healthy all summer by reading our Red Oak Animal Hospital team’s descriptions of four common scenarios in which your pet can overheat.
Scenario #1: A quick errand with your pet
While heading out the door to make a quick return at the store, your pitiful pet stares up at you, begging to join you for a ride. You hesitate because you know it’s extremely hot outside. However, you decide your pet should be fine because you are only going to run into the store for a few minutes. Your pet jumps into the car, and you crank the air conditioner and drive to the store with your pet.
Heat hazard: A vehicle can rapidly heat up on warm days. Even if you park in the shade and roll down the windows, a car can still reach dangerously high temperatures within minutes, putting your unattended pet at risk for developing heatstroke. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, no matter how quickly you plan to be gone. If you’re running errands or going somewhere pets are not allowed, leave your furry pal at home where they’re safe and cool.
Scenario #2: A playful pet that won’t take a break
You do your best to ensure your pet receives adequate daily exercise, and your energetic pet’s favorite activity is a trip to the dog park. Before leaving home, you grab an extra water bottle so you can keep your pet hydrated while they play with their furry friends. You arrive at the dog park, open the gate, and your pet is off to the races. You settle down at a table in the shade, joining a friend in a chat. You both watch your pets, but become so wrapped up in your conversation that neither of you is sure how long your pets have been strenuously running around in the blazing hot sun.
Heat hazard: During a fun summer outing, always keep in mind that high outdoor temperatures can be dangerous to your pet. An excited dog might not show exhaustion signs until their heat-related condition becomes extreme. Limit your pet’s exercise on hot days, and only take them on outings during the early morning or late evening hours’ cooler temperatures. Always bring water for both you and your pet, and take frequent breaks to hydrate. Additionally, keep a close eye out for heat exhaustion or heatstroke signs, such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Heavy panting
- Red gums
If your pet exhibits heat exhaustion signs, stop their activity and find a cool place to rest. If their condition is more serious, immediately bring them to the nearest veterinary hospital.
Scenario #3 A pet’s spilled water bowl goes unnoticed
While you spend time on the patio with friends, your pet plays in the yard. Although you have filled their large bowl with cool, fresh water, you are so wrapped up in your friends’ visit that you don’t notice your pet has accidentally toppled their bowl, spilling out all the water. Your pet licks up some of the water from the hot cement, but they get very little, and end up sauntering off, still parched.
Heat hazard: Dehydration can take your pet by surprise when summer temperatures soar. To help keep your pet hydrated, always ensure they have access to cool, clean water. Place multiple water bowls indoors and outdoors to provide your pet with plenty of opportunities to hydrate.
Scenario #4: A walk with your pet on a sizzling sidewalk
You usually walk your pet during the early morning’s cool hours. However, today you had an early appointment that ran late, so you decide to squeeze in your pet’s walk before your next meeting. You quickly leash your pet and head out, paying little heed to the time and temperature. As you and your pet follow your usual walking route, you notice your furry pal is limping slightly. By the time you get home, your pet’s limp has worsened, and you gently lift their foot to inspect their paw pad.
Heat hazard: The hot pavement can burn your pet’s sensitive paw pads. However, if you can only take your pet for a walk during the late afternoon or early evening, after the pavement has absorbed the sun’s heat all day, test the surface with your hand before setting out. If the pavement is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. Rather than walking on the hot pavement, your pet should traverse a grass or dirt path, which is typically cooler than asphalt and cement.
Pets can quickly overheat on a hot summer’s day. At the first overheating signs, head indoors immediately to cool off, and contact our Red Oak Animal Hospital team, so we can examine them for potential organ damage.