Heat Safety and Pets

By: Olivia Janik

With more frequent outdoor activities and higher temperatures, summer can be a dangerous season for your pet. But there are lots of ways to keep your four-legged friend happy and healthy in warm weather.

When you’re outside with your pet, or inside in a space with no fans or air conditioning, check them for symptoms of overheating. Signs of overheating include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, drooling and vomiting. 

If your pet is experiencing heat exhaustion or stress, apply ice packs or cool towels to their head, neck, and chest. Give your animal some cool water, but also switch it up with ice cubes or even ice cream. After those steps, get your pet to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. 

Luckily, there are plenty of preventable measures to help your dog or cat have fun in the sun without getting sick. If you’re outside with your pet, make sure they have access to fresh cool water, and a spot in the shade. Give them plenty of time to rest–don’t over-exercise them. If it’s extremely hot, keep your pet inside. When outside, don’t let your pet sit on asphalt for long periods of time because it can burn their paw pads. An easy way to test if the asphalt is too hot for their pads is the “seven second test”. Simply touch the pavement with the back of your hand for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.

Not all animals have the same reaction to heat. Pets with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke, because they cannot pant as easily. Other animals especially susceptible to the heat are elderly or overweight pets, or animals with heart or lung disease. If your pet falls into one of those categories, keep them inside an air conditioned space as much as possible when the temperatures rise.

No matter how quick you’ll be back, never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are open. It can lead to fatal heat stroke and is also illegal in multiple states–including Illinois.

While it may seem helpful to shave your dog in the summer, it actually harms them. Dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. However, you can trim the longer hair on your dog.

The summer months are a great time to get out and explore with your pet. Following these tips and learning how to prevent heat exhaustion will keep both you and your pet happy all summer long.

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