Summer is here, and the weather is warming up. Spending time outdoors with our pets is one of the most enjoyable activities of the season. However, our furry companions can’t sweat enough to cool off, leaving them at risk of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and potential death. Animal Care Veterinary Hospital (ACVH) is here to help whenever you suspect the heat has affected your pet. Here are five tips to help keep your pet cool and safe in the hot weather.

1: Home sweet home

Nothing beats the comforts of home, but whenever it’s hot outside, ensure your indoor pet stays comfortable with round-the-clock access to fresh, clean water. When he is outside, provide a shady, cool spot where he can escape the sun and heat. If you plan on doing errands, making a quick trip to the store, or visiting friends, leave your pet at home.

2: No car rides for pets

Imagine it is 72 degrees and a beautiful sunny day. You are sitting in your car with the windows cracked, barely bringing in any circulation, while wearing a winter coat. You would quickly get intensely hot. This is what your pet experiences when you leave him in the car on a warm day.  Even with the windows open, the car’s interior temperature can rise 20 degrees in minutes, which could have potentially fatal consequences for your pet.

Hundreds of dogs die each year from heat exposure and heat exhaustion. A Louisiana State Medical Society study on heat exposure and vehicles found that within 20 minutes, the car’s inside temperature surpassed 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Within one hour, the temperature rose 45 degrees.

3: Stay safe during outdoor activities with your pet

The pleasant weather entices everyone to participate in outdoor activities. If you include your dog, avoid taking him on walks, hikes, or runs during the hottest part of the day. Opt instead for early morning or evening jaunts with your furry pal, and, when you do exercise together, be patient with your dog, take breaks often, and keep him hydrated. Watch your dog’s behavior, because he will communicate heat exhaustion signs. Avoid traveling on asphalt, which retains the sun’s heat and can burn your pup’s paw pads.

4: Recognize overheating signs in your pet

Dogs regulate their body temperature by panting. While cats and dogs do have sweat glands in the bottom of their paws, they can’t sweat enough to regulate their body’s temperature. Watch your pet for the following heat exhaustion signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heartbeat  
  • High fever

If you notice any of these signs, immediately:

  1. Remove your pet from direct heat.
  2. Take your pet’s temperature. Heat exhaustion can occur when a pet’s temperature is 103 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 106 degrees can place your pet at risk of heat stroke. Call ACVH immediately at 615-890-1259 if your pet’s temperature becomes so high.
  3. Apply cool water to your pet’s neck, armpits, and abdomen, and between his rear legs, using a spray bottle or wet towels. Also, apply 70% Isopropyl alcohol in small amounts to his paw pads.
  4. Bring him to our office, and call us on the way so we can prepare for your visit.

5: Protect your pet from parasites

Your pet has a higher risk of exposure to parasites, like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, when outdoors. These critters are more than a nuisance—they can spread dangerous diseases to pets and people. Ensure your pet is protected with an appropriate parasite preventive while he enjoys his summer adventures.  

Are you and your pet prepared for the heat? Contact us and our team can help keep your pet healthy and safe as the temperatures rise.