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Nebraska Animal Medical Center

Protecting Your Pet As the Weather Heats Up

Cat squinting into the sun

Although summer is filled with so many fun outdoor activities, the heat and humidity can take a toll not only on you and your family but also on your pets. Learning techniques to help your pet stay cool, as well as understanding signs and symptoms of heat stroke, will ensure that your pet stays safe this summer. Here are a few tips to follow as the weather heats up:

Never ever leave your pets unattended in a vehicle. Even if you are just running a quick errand, DO NOT leave your pets alone in a car during the heat of the summer. Take the extra five minutes to drop off your pets before stocking up on groceries or getting your hair primped, because in a matter of minutes the temperature inside of your vehicle can rise to a sweltering 120 degrees. Even on a seemingly cool, 72-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 116 degrees in just an hour. Using tactics like leaving the windows cracked or leaving the air conditioning running do not create safe conditions for your pet. If you by chance didn’t get the importance of it from the previous lines- here it is again: absolutely, one-hundred-percent, no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ about it- do not leave your dog unattended in the car.

Exercise your pet in the morning or evening. As we all know from experience, the hottest parts of the day tend to take place in the early to mid-afternoon. Take time in the cooler mornings or evenings to maintain that ‘Richard Simmons’ type physique for you and your pet. A few added points: Be sure to carry water with you on your excursion and pay attention to how your pet is responding to the activity. Also, be mindful of your dog’s breed and body type as that plays a role in how they handle the heat. For example, ‘brachycephalic’ pets (aka those with short noses) generally have a harder time breathing and may become overheated sooner than others.

Provide extra shade and water. Be sure your pet has access to plenty of water at all times and that they have access to a cool place to take a break from the sun (and just to clarify- by ‘cool’ I don’t mean decking out your dog’s kennel in band posters). A spot under a shady tree or a tarp are great options because they allow ample airflow. Doghouses, on the other hand, are not a good option because they tend to hold heat and can create unsafe conditions for your pet. Some other fun things to try include giving your pet a cool treat or applying doggy sunscreen as extra measures to keep them safe. Many dogs enjoy splashing in a cool pool of water or running through a sprinkler to help them cool off.

Even though we know you are taking every word above to heart and are taking the necessary steps to keep your pet safe this summer it is very important to understand the signs and symptoms of heat stroke in case of an emergency. An animal with heat stroke may display the following symptoms:

  • Heavy panting

  • Glazed eyes

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

  • Excessive thirst

  • Fever

  • Seizure

  • Unconsciousness

If you suspect that your pet is experiencing heat stroke move your pet inside immediately and apply wet room temperature towels to their skin. Provide water or ice cubes for your pet to lick and call NAMC right away at (402) 423-9100. We are available for emergencies 24/7 including holidays. Otherwise, get out there and enjoy the sunshine!