Summer and Extreme Heat Preparedness

As hot and miserable extreme temperatures can be for people, pets are even more affected by heat and humidity— especially if they are used to being inside where the climate is controlled.

Dogs and cats cannot sweat like humans; they pant to cool off. Owners need to monitor pets when it is hot, as they cannot tell you when they’re suffering. Symptoms of overheating include:

  • heavy panting
  • lethargy
  • glazed eyes
  • lack of coordination
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing.
If you observe any of these symptoms, take steps to cool your pet and consult a veterinarian.

Tips to Make Your Pet More Comfortable

Each animal has a different tolerance for hot conditions, but there are a few things that owners can do to make their pets more comfortable:

  • Provide a cool shelter – Ideally, you should keep your dog or cat in air-conditioned comfort in hot weather. If your dog must remain outside, a dog house in a shady, well-ventilated area can keep your dog cooler.
  • Check water bowls often – Pets may need more water to stay hydrated. A fun treat can be to add an ice cube or a flavored “pupsicle” to the bowl. The ice cube will also keep him or her from drinking too quickly and swallowing air while they drink — which can cause a serious condition called bloat.
  • Use sunscreen – If your dog is white or pale in color, apply a fragrance-free sunscreen — especially on the nose — as dogs can get sunburns just like people.
  • Update vaccinations – Diseases like rabies, distemper and parvo are always present, but your pet is at greater risk with more outdoor activity in the summer. Other concerns are heartworm, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and bites from fleas or ticks.

Outdoor Exercise

All animals need exercise to stay healthy. If you walk your dog regularly, consider these precautions during summer months:

  • Check conditions – Dogs and cats can burn their paw pads walking on hot concrete or asphalt. Seek a natural trail or grassy path for your walk when the sun shines brightly. However, be sure to check those areas for fresh fertilizer, toxic plants, chemical spills or thorns, which can injure or poison your pet.
  • Change your routine – Consider moving outside time to earlier in the day or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Take a break – Even if your pet is accustomed to outdoor activity, take more breaks than normal when temperatures rise. Allow your pet to cool down slowly and thoroughly before further activity.
  • Do a once-over when you’re done – When you’re finished with the outdoors, check your pet for insect bites, worn paw pads, excessive panting or injuries. Remove any ticks you discover with tweezers to prevent illness.
  • Water safety – If you visit a park, creek or swimming pool, watch your pet at all times. You should also give him or her a rinse to remove any chemical or dirt residue.

Take Them or Leave Them

NEVER, EVER leave children, pets or others in a parked vehicle. Even when temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, heat inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. Please watch this video for a demonstration on how quickly temperatures can rise inside a closed vehicle. Leaving windows open does not significantly decrease this rapid heat rise.

Young girl posed with 2 dogs