“It’s a scorcher out there!” Summertime in the South is very hot and humid. Many people don’t know that the heat and humidity can affect pets just as much as humans. Don’t leave your pet in a car, don’t let them walk on hot pavement if you are not able to walk barefoot on it, and don’t leave them outside without shelter or water are just a few ways to make sure you pet is safe from the heat this summer. Greenville County Animal Care has a helpful informational sheet on what to do in the event of a heat related illness.
Certain types of dogs are more susceptible to heat than others. Puppies and kittens before 6 months of age, senior animals, overweight pets, pets who overexert during play time or exercising, pets who are on certain medications, pets who have heart disease or poor circulation, and brachycephalic pets (dogs or cats with a short snout, like bulldogs, boxers, or pugs) are all at a higher risk of heat-related illnesses. Special precautions should be taken with these animals, but make sure ALL of your furry family members are safe from heat with these tips.
Animals sweat differently than humans do. Dogs and cats “sweat” by panting and releasing moisture through the pads on their feet. Because of this, you have to watch the humidity outside as well as the temperature. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves. Some good ways to keep cool and prevent heat illness are to:
- 1.Limit exercise on hot days
- 2.Provide ample shade and water
- 3.Cool your pet inside and out – you can cool them from the inside by providing frozen dog-safe fruit (NEVER feed your dog grapes or raisins), or a peanut butter popsicle, and cool them from the outside by providing a sprinkler, pool, or cool bath to help take the heat off.
Also, because pets sweat through their feet, they are more cognizant of walking on hot ground. If you are unable to walk across a surface barefoot because it is too hot, your pet cannot walk across it either. If you notice your dog picking up his or her feet a lot, constantly moving around, or whimpering/whining, immediately pick him or her up and move to a shady area. Dogs can suffer burns and blisters on the pads of their feet just as humans would by touching something too hot.
Know the signs of heatstroke: Watch for heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, excessive drooling and vomiting. If you notice an animal has signs of heatstroke, move it immediately into an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, chest, and between the back legs, give cool water and call the vet. Heat stroke can be fatal, so make sure you recognize the signs and know what to do in the event of a heat-related illness. You can also stop by Paw Paws USA on Main Street in downtown Greenville and check out our new line of Ruffwear Cooling Dog Vests to help keep your fur child cool this summer!