The weather is warming up, and summer will officially arrive on June 20th. Families will be firing up the grills, going camping, or perhaps enjoying Country Jam. There are tons of activities to keep you and the family busy this time of year. With all these fun activities comes hot weather. While we may not think of temperatures between the 80’s and 90s as serious heat, these temperatures can be downright dangerous for pets. For this reason, the following are safety tips to prevent overheating and keep your furry friends safe this summer.
Dangers of Hot Weather and Overheating
The first thing to understand is how easily a pet can get overheated in hot weather. We see too many pets brought into our hospital this time of year from overheating. A pet can suffer from overheating at home, during a hike, or even on a short car trip. Pets that are older, obese, or have medical issues are more at risk. Here are symptoms of overheating to watch out for:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Erratic pulse
- White or pale gums that seem dry.
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Confusion, low energy, or sudden lack of coordination
- Rectal temperature of more than 103°F
If you see any of these symptoms, do not hesitate! The sooner you act, then the faster you can bring your pet’s temperature down. Quickly find access to cool water and wet your pet down. Provide them with plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink, and call your vet to see if you should bring them in. You can always contact us for guidance on what you should do.
Overheating Prevention Tips
The easiest way to handle overheating is to stop it from happening in the first place. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.
- Never leave your pet in the car, even if you think it’s going to be just for a little while; this can be fatal! Per the Humane Society, a car can get up to 120 degrees in just 30 minutes when it’s only 85 degrees outside!
- Keep your pet hydrated by always having plenty of clean, fresh water to drink. If you take your pet on a hike or road trip, ensure to have enough water and a water bowl for your pet.
- Watch the humidity. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. Panting takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they cannot cool themselves. Their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly.
- If your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun with plenty of shade and cold water. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct airflow. Note: A doghouse does not provide relief from the heat; it makes it worse.
- Keep off the hot pavement as much as possible. Hot pavement can cause overheating and not to mention burned paws!
We sometimes get asked if it is okay to shave a pet during the summer to help them stay cooler. We do not advise shaving your pet. The reason: pets’ coats have several layers that are essential to their comfort in the heat. If you shave your pet, you rob them of this natural cooling system which can lead to discomfort, overheating, and other dangers like sunburn or skin cancer. However, grooming your pet is okay. Grooming will help make their fur more manageable.
Please remember that pets can be more sensitive to hot weather and humidity than we are. They cannot tell us when they are getting too hot and overheating. So, take preventative measures to keep your pets safe from hot weather and know the signs of overheating so you can act quickly. If you have any more general pet care questions, you can call us or check out our FAQs to see if the information is listed there.
Follow the above tips and have a great, fun summer!
Dr. Dominic Carrica DVM
Amigo Animal Clinic
Grand Junction, Colorado