The Heat Is On: Time To Protect Your Pet From Heat-Related Problems
Although Austin’s not quite as humid as, say, Houston, our lovely city still experiences toasty temperatures throughout the summer. The days can stretch endlessly towards September, with no real break from the sunny, hot days that often reach 100-degrees, or higher.
While it’s endearing to imagine your furry friend sporting a pair of Ray-ban’s in the summer sun, heatstroke dangers are all too real and deeply concern us. Veterinary hospitals see too many cases each summer to believe that all pet owners understand the risks. How can you better protect your pet from heat-related problems? We’re glad you asked! The following ZippiTips aim to keep your furry friend cool and safe all summer long.
Too Hot For You?
The general rule is: if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. Your pet can easily overheat on one of our typical 90-degree summer days.
Some breeds are more heat tolerant while others, especially brachycephalic breeds (short nosed dogs like pugs or bulldogs, and cats such as Persians), more easily overheat. Overweight or elderly pets and pets with thick, dark coats, are also more easily impacted by the heat and should be observed closely and extra care taken to handle the hot days ahead.
Awareness of these two simple but critical components will help you protect your pet from heat-related illness: shade and water. An abundance of both (plus a good dose of air conditioning) will ensure that your pet doesn’t get hot enough to develop dangerous symptoms of heatstroke, such as:
- Erratic panting rhythms
- Thick, ropey saliva
- Dry, tacky gums or lips
- Grey or purple gums
If you see any of these signs, your pet could need life-saving emergency care. Please don’t delay; we can assist you over the phone at (512) 904-0218.
Protect Your Pet From Heat-Related Illness
Your dog pants to cool him or herself, but the additional panting in hot weather can result in dehydration. Providing extra bowls of fresh water around the patio, backyard, and throughout the house will help prevent dehydration risks.
You can also protect your pet from heat-related illness by:
- Restricting physical exertion to early mornings and evenings
- Discouraging playtime in the middle of the day
- Leaving pets to chill at home in the AC on the hottest days
- Steering your pet away from hot pavement to reduce blistering paws
- Brushing out your pet’s coat to increase airflow to the skin
- Setting up a wading pool to splash around in and cool off
- Providing cool, damp towels to lay on
- Never leaving him or her in your parked vehicle
What You Can Do
If you suspect your pet is over-heated, try to bring his or her temperature back down to 101-102 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of ice packs (which constrict blood flow), apply compresses of room temperature water to the back, head, belly, armpits, and groin area. Absorb excess water, allow your pet to dry in front of a cooling fan, take his or her temperature again, and repeat, if necessary.
Heat-related illness is a very real threat to all pets during summer. Taking extra precautions to ensure your pet is cool, comfortable, and safe will go a long way towards general summer wellness.
Your pet’s health and safety is our top priority. Please let your ZippiVet veterinarian know if you have any questions or concerns and, above all, enjoy your summer together!