Chicago is set for a heat wave this weekend! The veterinarians and staff here at Family Pet Animal Hospital would like to remind you how to keep your dogs safe in the extreme heat.
Provide water and shade
Do your best to keep your furry family members of out the direct sun by providing access to shade, although if the temperature and humidity are high enough, shade might not be enough. Allow your pets to cool off indoors with air conditioning when possible.
Pets can become dehydrated quickly in the heat so be sure to provide plenty of fresh, cool drinking water.
Never leave your pet in a parked car in the heat
Our pets are family, so it’s tempting to bring them with us on car rides when we’re out on the town. Sadly, many people believe that cracking the car windows is enough to moderate the temperature inside the car. They are wrong! According to the ASPCA website, when it’s 80 degrees outside, in less than 30 minutes, the inside of your car could be a staggering 114 degrees!
Dogs cannot cool themselves off as easily as people. Once they overheat, they can suffer severe organ damage or die. Don’t risk it!
Stay off the asphalt
Keep your pets off the asphalt, which can get dangerously hot during the summer. Not only can they burn their delicate paw pads, but because your dog’s body is so low to the ground, he/she is in danger of overheating quickly when walking over hot surfaces.
Limit exercise in the heat
While our pets may love the outdoors, some of them simply do not know how to self regulate their activities to stay safe and healthy. Be your pet’s advocate! Keep walks and outdoor activity minimal during peak daytime temperatures, choosing instead to walk your dog during early morning or evening hours when temperatures are lower.
Watch for signs of heat stroke
Knowing how to detect signs of heat stroke could mean the difference between life and death for your furry family member. Breeds with flat faces (such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Persian cats, etc.), as well as pets who are overweight, elderly, and those that have heart or lung disease are particularly susceptible to overheating easily.
Know these signs of heat stroke:
- Excessive, prolonged panting or difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Dark red and/or tacky tongue/gums
- Staggering and lack of coordination, lethargy, or even collapse
- Increased and/or irregular heartbeat
- Rectal temperature above 104 degrees F
- Vomiting and diarrhea
As soon as you recognize signs of heat stroke in your pet, you should begin a cooling method. Soak towels in lukewarm water and wrap your pet in the towels. Although it may seem counterintuitive, we do not recommend using cold water! Cooling your pet too rapidly could be detrimental to your pet and actually inhibit quicker dissipation of heat from your pet’s body. You may also use fans on your dampened pet to encourage heat loss by convection.
Once you’ve started the process of cooling down your pet, call your pet’s veterinarian immediately for further instructions. Pets affected by heat stroke may require hospitalization, intravenous fluid therapy, administration of oxygen, and other supportive care.
Dangerous medical conditions can occur after heat stroke including kidney failure, liver failure, heart abnormalities, abnormal clotting of blood, cerebral edema, among others. These conditions may occur hours or days after the incident and your pet will need to be very closely monitored. Early recognition and aggressive treatment of heat stroke are critical for you pet’s well-being.