With temperatures in the nineties this week, it’s a good time for a refresher on how to keep pets safe during hot weather – starting with never, ever leaving them in a hot car. On a day like today, the temperature in a slightly-vented car (windows cracked) can exceed 100° within 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, it’ll be 120° or more, which can lead to permanent organ damage or death in animals.To keep your animals safe, make sure they have plenty of shade, ventilation, and water. Add ice cubes to water for extra cooling effect (and playtime, in some cases). If your dog is okay with baths, it may be time to break out the garden hose. Remember that dogs and cats don’t sweat as much as we do – for them, heat dissipation comes from panting to evaporate moisture, so high humidity is even more dangerous for them.
If you do need to leave a dog outside, be sure to provide shade that doesn’t obstruct air flow, and a surface that’s grass or earth rather than paved. Asphalt and concrete can get hot enough to burn unprotected paws.
Watch for signs of heat injuries, which can include excessive panting or labored breathing, fever, apparent loss of coordination, glazed eyes, vomiting, excess salivation, a deep purple or red color to the tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness. If you see these symptoms, move your pet into air conditioning, apply ice packs or cold, wet towels, provide a small amount of water or ice cubes, and get to an emergency vet immediately.
For more resources on pet safety in extreme heat, check out the American Humane Society and the American Red Cross. Also check out our general pet preparedness tips.