It’s hot outside.
The current mini-heat wave (it’s hitting 96 degrees here in New York City, with a heat index of 106 or more) is enough to melt roadways — so you know your pet is feeling just as hot and miserable as you.
As you probably know, dogs don’t sweat. They pant. That’s not exactly an energy-efficient system of releasing heat, so take a moment to check out the advice below.
5 Heat Wave Tips for Pet Owners
- Do not ever leave your dog or cat in the car unattended. I can’t even believe we have to remind people of this fact, but cars heat up like microwave ovens. It takes only a few minutes for them to fire up past 100 degrees Fahrenheit. On extremely hot days like today, a car parked in direct sunlight can see a 30-degree rise in temperature every single minute.
- Toss some ice into your dog or cat’s water. It just feels good. Be sure to provide lots of the fresh, cold wet stuff. Lots.
- Avoid playing fetch or jogging outside with your dog. Try to stick to shaded areas, and venture out during the early morning and late evening. Hot asphalt can burn dog paws. Also, remember that, according to the Humane Society of the United States, dog houses do not always provide relief from heat. Meanwhile, keep your cat inside with the A/C turned on until the heat and humidity subside.
- No, you should not use sunscreen intended for human use on your pets. Those ingestion warnings for kids on the label? They apply to your dog or cat as well, so just don’t use ’em. Yes, they do make sunscreen for pets. Use one of these approved products instead. And try to keep sun exposure to a minimum. (This goes for you too!)
- Be aware that certain dog breeds are more prone to heat stroke. These include pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, shih tzus and other pushed-in nose dog breeds. This goes for cat breeds such as Persians and Himalayans as well. Monitor these pets closely.
Know the symptoms of heat stroke in a dog or cat. They include: hard panting, glazed-over eyes, quick heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, fever, dizziness, loss of coordination, salivating too much, vomiting, loss of consciousness and more.
If you notice symptoms of heat stroke, move your pet into an air-conditioned area immediately. Apply ice packs to the head or immerse your pet in cool water (not ice cold). Try to get your pet to drink water, and take her to a veterinarian pronto.
Heat waves kill pets. Don’t let yours be a victim.
More Tips From the AVMA