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DOG / health & care

When a heat wave rolls in, be ready

Pet Emergency Preparedness

From sizzling pavements to power outages that knock out air-conditioning, the effects of extreme heat can be perilous for all breeds. Pets that are overweight and bulldogs, pugs, boxers and other short-snouted dogs are especially predisposed to heat-related issues. In the event of a heat wave:

  • Bring your pet inside and provide fresh water at all times. Keeping them well-groomed and offering cooling beds, vests and bandanas can help keep them more comfortable.
  • If outdoors, provide a cool rest area that’s shaded from the sun. A fun and practical option is a kiddie pool filled with fresh water. Don’t forget dog-safe sunscreen for noses, ears and exposed skin.
  • Don’t walk your pet on hot pavement or surfaces. The heat can burn their paws. Stick to grassy and shaded areas.
  • Restrict walks and exercise to early mornings and evenings and carry a portable water container. Be attentive to any behavior pets exhibit that suggest they can’t continue.

Never EVER leave pets unattended in cars

If your destination doesn’t allow pets, leave them at home. Every year, hundreds of pets left in cars die from heatstroke. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, even with windows open slightly on an 85° F day, the temperature inside a car can reach 120° F in a half-hour. Pets can suffer from heatstroke, which occurs at 103° F or more, which can lead to organ failure and death.

What to do if your dog overheats

From sizzling pavements to power outages that knock out air-conditioning, the effects of extreme heat can be perilous for all breeds. Pets that are overweight and bulldogs, pugs, boxers and other short-snouted dogs are especially predisposed to heat-related issues. In the event of a heat wave:

  • Look for signs of distress: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, stupor, weakness, increased heart rate, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures.
  • Get your dog out of direct heat and sun.
  • If possible, take your dog’s temperature (heat stroke occurs at 103° F or more).
  • Spray your dog with cool water and place cool (not cold) water-soaked towels on your dog’s head, neck, feet, chest and abdomen.
  • Take your pet to the veterinarian ASAP. Complications from heatstroke can be potentially fatal and may not show up for hours or even days, so it is critical to seek veterinary care early.