How To Help Your Pets When It’s Too Hot

hot dog summer
  1. Leave pets at home. Dogs cool themselves by panting, which precipitates convection; that is, their panting exchanges warm body temperature for cooler air outside. If the outside air isn’t significantly cooler than their body temp, their cooling system doesn’t work and they can get heatstroke. Studies show that on a 75 degree day, temps inside a car (with windows cracked) can raise to 100 degrees in 10 minutes. Temps in dark colored cars can rise even more.
  2. Keep plenty of fresh water accessible in deep bowls. All that heavy breathing takes a toll. Dogs lose moisture much faster than humans, so they should always have access to fresh, cool water. Deep bowls of cool water will stay chilled longer than shallow bowls, and you can also add ice to prolong the chill.
  3. Avoid burnt paws. Check the temperature of the pavement with the back of your hand. It it’s too hot to hold it there for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. It’s best to walk them early in the morning or not at all.
  4. Be sensible about exercise. Exercise early in the morning and watch for signs of heat stress, some of which can include: excessive panting, increased salivation, glassy eyes, and pale gums. To keep bored dogs occupied during the day, try giving them frozen treats in a Kong.  It will help keep your dog cool and occupied. 
  5. Maintain their coat. A shaggy coat can actually help insulate your dog against the heat. If you have a thick-coated dog or cat, use a brush that removes thick undercoat while leaving the outer coat which insulates and protects their skin from sunburn. As long as air can circulate through the fur, this will help keep your pet cool.
  6. Do you suspect heatstroke? If you think your pet has overheated, place cool (not ice cold, as this can do more harm!), wet washcloths on his head and neck, and cool compresses on his belly and under his back legs. Call your vet’s office immediately and seek their advice. Heatstroke can quickly lead to coma, cardiac arrest, and death, so don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
  7. Outdoor pets. Bring them inside.