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DOG / health & care

When a heat wave rolls in, be ready

Pet Emergency Preparedness

From sizzling pavements to power outages, heat waves can bamboozle even the most vigilant pet parent. Here are a few things you need to know to keep your pet safe during extreme heat warnings.

Ride out the heat wave

It’s important to take care of all breeds in the heat, but be particularly careful with bulldogs, pugs, boxers and other short-snouted dogs—they are predisposed to heat-related issues. In the event of a power outage or heat wave:

  • Bring your pet inside.
  • If you’re unable to keep your pet indoors, provide a cool, sheltered and shaded rest area where your pet can keep away from the sun.
  • Do not leave your pet in garden sheds or garages, as these areas trap heat and can become too hot during the day.
  • Many pets splash or sit in their drinking water if they get too hot. Consider a kiddie pool or a cooling mat for your pet.
  • Don’t walk your pet on hot pavement or surfaces. The heat can burn their paws.
  • In the summer, restrict walks and exercise to early mornings or late afternoons when temperatures cool off.

Supplies to keep pets cool

Whether you’re taking your pet along on an outdoor hike, traveling to sunny climes, or just enjoying a backyard BBQ, prepare for summer adventures with these supplies:

To cool your pet

For summer travel

Never EVER leave pets unattended in cars

This is a pet-parenting rule to live by. Whether it’s a road trip or a quick run to the grocery store, it’s tempting to bring your furry companion along for a ride—but under no circumstances should pets be left in a car. If your destination doesn’t allow pets, leave them at home.

Hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion, because their owners leave them in cars, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. On a sunny, mild day temperatures inside parked vehicles can soar between 100 to over 130°F in just a few minutes because heat is absorbed and then trapped inside. Pets can die from heat stroke and increased body temperature that they’re unable to regulate.

What to do if your dog overheats

In the event of an emergency always contact and follow the advice of your veterinarian. If you suspect heat stroke, The American Red Cross recommends you take the following steps to slowly lower your pet’s temperature:

  • Get your dog out of direct heat and sun.
  • Take your dog’s temperature (heat stroke occurs at 104° F or more).
  • Spray your dog with cool water then retake temperature.
  • Place water-soaked towels on your dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen.
  • Turn on a fan and point it at your dog.
  • Rub Isopropyl alcohol (70%) on your dog’s feet pads to help cool your pet, but don’t use large quantities. It can be toxic if ingested.
  • Take your dog to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Once your pet is cooled to 103° F, you must stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can become dangerously low if you continue cooling.

For more Red Cross information about heat safety for pets, click here.

Additional resources

Keep Pets Safe in the Heat, The Humane Society of the United States

Heat Stroke and Hyperthermia in Dogs, PetMD

Heat Wave Safety Tips, The American Red Cross