Surviving Summer–Helping Pets In Hot Weather

Pets Feel Heat More Than You

image of a dog panting

The first and most important thing to understand is that your pets–dogs and cats–experience weather and extreme temperatures differently than you do.

Dogs and cats are more sensitive to heat stress than humans.

Signs your pet may be suffering from heat stress include:
–excessive panting
–restless and anxious behavior
–gums that are bright red

If you observe any of these signs, its time to find shade and a way to cool down, give your pet plenty of water, and get out of the sun and heat as soon as possible.

Beware of Burns

Even though the pads on a dog are tough and calloused, they are easily burned by hot pavement, concrete or rocks when walking and hiking. People typically have shoes on to protect our feet. Imagine going barefoot, and you’ll have a better feeling for what your dog is experiencing when walking on sun baked surfaces. We may not realize how hot the surface will be on warm days. Touch the surface your dog is walking on to see how hot it might be. If it hurts or burns your hands or feet, chances are its going to hurt your pet too.

Avoid the Heat of the Day

Remember, whatever heat stress you feel, your dog is likely feeling it even more strongly.
Walk, hike and play in the cooler parts of the day.
Always make sure you have ample water available for the dog.
Stop and rest in the shade to allow the dog to cool down at regular intervals.
If a dog is focused on running and playing they don’t always know when to stop, it is important for the owner to make them stop for a rest to cool off.

You can also ask your veterinarian about clipping the hair coat on longer furred animals to help in the summer months.

Never Leave a Pet in Hot Car

Of course don’t leave them in the car in direct sunshine or on a hot day – even for a few minutes. Temperatures in a car can spike well over 110 degrees in just a matter of minutes and cause heat stroke, massive stress and even death.

Talk to Your Veterinarian or Call us at Alpine

Idaho summers typically have several weeks with steady temperatures going into the 90’s. We have treated many dogs over the years for heat stress. If not prevented or treated early the complications can be kidney failure, brain damage, seizures and ultimately death.

Overweight dogs are particularly sensitive to heat stress. The only way for a dog to cool down is to pant, which can be tiring in itself. Dogs with heart disease or other respiratory issues will also be more susceptible to heat induced problems.

Be aware as well that we often see heat stress in the fall as bird hunting starts. We still have very warm days in September and October and this is when dogs are out working very hard. Remember, whatever heat stress you feel, your dog is going to feel even more strongly.

Preventing heat stress in dogs–and humans–typically comes down to common sense. Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun in high temperatures. Make sure to have adequate shade protection, take regular rest breaks, drink plenty of water, and regulate body temperature by cooling down and easing up on activity when summer temps start to soar.

As always, please call the friendly staff at Alpine Animal Hospital 208 237-1111 with any questions or concerns. We’re glad to hear from you anytime!

Author: Rena Carlson DVM

Edited by John Young