Wild animals can make it through the worst weather, but the same can't be said for your cats and dogs. Extreme heat poses all sorts of threats to pets. Food, water and shelter are the main priorities, but grooming and leashing are also important.
Here are some tips to keep your best friend happy and healthy, regardless of the weather.
Heat stroke is a serious threat to animals, and even with prompt treatment it can be fatal. Pets that have already suffered heat stroke once are more susceptible, as are animals that are young or old, have health problems, are overweight, or are snub-nosed.
Signs of heat stroke include panting, staring or stupor, breathing difficulty, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse. If you observe any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. Get the animal out of direct heat and get it wet in a wading pool, with a hose, or by covering it with towels soaked in cool water. Towels are most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like a dog's belly and legs. Here's how to prevent heat stroke:
- Avoid leaving an animal in a parked vehicle, even for a few minutes. The temperature in a parked car can reach 120 degrees within minutes, so just a 10-minute stop may be dangerous. Opening the windows a few inches doesn't provide adequate cooling. If you're running errands, leave your dog home in a cool basement, or in a shaded yard with a wading pool. If you're traveling, make pit stops at places where your pet can get out of the vehicle.
- Provide fresh, cool drinking water at all times. That includes inside your vehicle when you're traveling.
- Make sure outdoor kennels are shaded and well-ventilated. Use water bowls that will not tip.
- Avoid exercising pets on hot days or warm, humid nights.
- Groom your pet. Clip long coats to about an inch (shorter clips or shaving can leave dogs vulnerable to sunburn). Cats shed profusely in hot weather, so brush them daily to prevent hairballs. Proper grooming also can prevent summer skin problems.