Summer Heat and Your Pet

by Marjorie Metlitz, D.V.M.

Now that the warm weather is here, you need to consider your pet’s comfort and safety. The hot weather poses new problems that need to be taken into account when caring for your pet. Just as it can with us, the heat can cause your pet to become ill from heat stroke. Many pets end up at the veterinarian’s office with heat stroke due to excessive exposure to the sun, heat or both.

Now that the warm weather is here, you need to consider your pet’s comfort and safety. The hot weather poses new problems that need to be taken into account when caring for your pet. Just as it can with us, the heat can cause your pet to become ill from heat stroke. Many pets end up at the veterinarian’s office with heat stroke due to excessive exposure to the sun, heat or both.

You need to take the same precautions with your pets as you would with yourself and your family. Unfortunately, your pet cannot get him or herself out of a difficult, dangerous situation without your help, so plan ahead and help him avoid those situations in the first place. Important things to keep in mind are shade, fresh water and not letting the animal overheat.

Here are some tips to keep your pet healthy and comfortable through the summer months:

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car. With the windows closed, the interior of a car sitting in the sun can get hot enough to boil water. Even “cracking” the windows several inches is not sufficient!
  • Outdoor pets should have plenty of shade and fresh, cool water, and a breeze, if possible.
  • If temperatures will be in the upper 90s or 100s, think of keeping your pet inside where it is cooler. If you can’t, think about wetting the pet down with tepid water several times a day.
  • Walk your dog early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are cooler.
  • Leave your dog at home when going out on a hot day for hikes, to festivals or on other outdoor adventures.

If your pet exhibits any signs of heat stroke, i.e., unable to stand, panting, weakness, not responsive, coma or seizures, call your vet immediately!