Humane Society tips for keeping your pet cool
As much of the country experiences record-high temperatures, The Humane Society of the United States reminds pet owners to protect their animal companions.
The mid-western and southern regions will continue to experience devastating heat this week. Pet owners are advised not to leave their animals outside for extended periods of time. Even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat can be dangerous for an animal.
“This extreme heat and humidity can pose health risks for people, but it’s also a dangerous time for our pets,” said Niki Dawson, director of disaster services for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States reminds everyone that the heat can be fatal for their pets and urges them to take precautions to protect our furry friends during this record-setting hot spell.”
Never leave your pets in a parked car.
Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact the nearest animal shelter or police.
Provide ample shade and water.
Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, doghouses are often hotter than the outside temperature.
Limit exercise on hot days.
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.
Take pets with you.
If you need to find a cool place to stay, contact your local government emergency management office to ask about pet-friendly shelters, or contact hotels and motels outside the affected area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency.
Visit our website to find a list of pet-friendly hotels and other evacuation tips.
If you can’t find a hotel or shelter, check with friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to house them at separate locations.
Some boarding facilities and veterinary offices might be able to shelter animals in emergencies. Your local animal shelter will likely not have room to board your pets during this heat emergency, but they may be able to recommend alternate facilities.
And remember that when traveling with your pets, do not leave them alone in the car, even with the windows cracked, and do not allow your pet to walk on hot sidewalks or pavement, which can burn their paws.
Recognize the signs of heatstroke.
Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness.
Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short, smushed muzzles, will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat. Because dogs do not sweat the same way as humans, fans do not have the same cooling effect for them.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”
Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. If their temperature goes over 104 degrees, immediate steps need to be taken.
When in doubt, contact a veterinarian. If you cannot contact a veterinarian, follow the tips below.
If you fear your pet may be suffering heatstroke, following these tips could save her life:
- Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
- Apply ice, frozen packs or cold towels to her head, neck and chest or run cool water over her.
- Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
- Take her directly to a veterinarian.
Information Courtesy of the Humane Society