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Help your pets keep their cool

by Therese on June 13, 2011

in Cats, Dogs, Pet First Aid, Pet Health

Many parts of the country are dealing with record breaking heat, and it’s not even summer yet! My air conditioning has been running overtime, and when I’m out, I don’t stay out long. It’s just too darn hot. My dogs don’t even want to stay out too long, but I wouldn’t let them even if they did want to.

Dogs and cats don’t deal with the heat like we do. In really hot weather, we get all drippy with sweat. It may not be pretty but it helps get some of the heat out of our bodies so we cool off. Cats and dogs don’t have a few million sweat glands all over their bodies like we do though. The only way they can cool themselves is through their mouths. This means it’s not good enough to judge how hot your pet is by how hot you are. They can get overheated and develop heat stroke much faster than we can. So if you have pets it’s important to know the signs of heat stroke, what to do if you suspect it, and most importantly how to prevent it.

How to Avoid Heat Stroke

  • Keep your pets indoors, where it’s air conditioned if possible.
  • When you exercise your dog, keep her activity level to a minimum. Remember that she won’t know when to slow down or stop. She may play until she develops heat stroke and is in danger.
  • Exercise dogs in the early morning or after the sun goes down. Stay off the cement or blacktop when possible, as the heat will burn their feet.
  • Make sure your pets have access to cool, clean water at all times.
  • Provide all outdoor pets with well ventilated, shady areas.
  • Never leave your pet in an unattended car! It can heat up to over 100 degrees within minutes. This will likely cause heatstroke, and even death.
  • Don’t let your dogs ride in the back of your pickup truck. The hot air and heat reflecting from the floor/sides can make your dog overheat faster than you might think. (For many reasons, this is never a good idea, regardless of the weather!)

Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Excessive panting
  • Tongue that is bright red or dark in color
  • Clammy gums and/or tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Seizures

If You Suspect Your Cat or Dog Has Heat Stroke

  • Get your pet out of the heat as soon as possible.
  • Cool her off with cool (not cold!) water. Wrap her in a cool, wet cloth or pour cool water on her starting with her neck and the pads of her feet.
  • Call your vet or take your pet to the nearest emergency clinic immediately

Heat stroke can result in death if not treated quickly enough, so it’s important to do what you can to prevent it from happening. Watch your pets closely in hot weather, and know that very young or very old pets, those with health problems, active dogs, and short nosed breeds are especially prone to heat stroke.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon's Pet-Sitting June 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

Great Article Theresa! Hope you don’t mind I reposted it on my blog as well! I loose count of how many time I have to remind pet owners from the begining to end of summer about pet temperature safety.


Therese June 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I do a blot post about this at least once a summer. I feel like I’m being a bit redundant, but I see too many dogs in cars so I know there are still people who need to get the message.


Philippa Davidson June 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

Thank you for this important information. Sadly, I was told recently of a young dog who died from heatstroke when the well-meaning person who was caring for him in his owner’s absence took him on a hike. I have a dog walking business in Hawaii and would like to stress the importance of taking water with you when walking or hiking with a dog. If possible, take a spray bottle filled with water, too, to help the cooling process.


Elise June 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm

website still in progress.

I see my friends and other dog owners shaving their dogs coats off in summer and say “they like it better that way,” I always believed that a dog’s coat was made to insulate them from cold and heat and that shaving their coats off in summer does them a disservice by eliminating the undercoat that is protective to them. Any thoughts, anybody?

And thanks for the heatstroke reminders. My golden will run forever but we always stop playing and rest in the shade in between serious romps.

Be safe everyone.



Therese June 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm

A lot of times I think it’s the people who like it that way the most! The coat can serve as an insulator, but I think some dogs may benefit from a trim. It’s important to leave some hair though, because if they’re shaved down close to the skin they can get sunburned.


Susanne W June 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Great article.


Carol June 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I posted heat stroke info to my staff and had them give handouts to customers already.
I mentioned burnt pads too. If after 60 secom=nd s the pavement is too hot for your hand then it is too hot for their pads. Keep to the grass and shade as much as possible.


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