Extreme heat can be unpleasant for anyone, and pets are no exception. While it's easy for men and women to detect if their bodies are responding negatively to heat, those warning signs may not be so prevalent in pets, who may suffer in silence as the mercury continues to rise.
Pet owners must pay special attention to their pets on hot days, which the Humane Society of the United States notes can be both uncomfortable and dangerous for pets. In an effort to help pet owners protect their pets from the summer heat, the HSUS offers the following tips to pet owners who want to keep their pets cool and safe this summer.
• Don't leave pets in a parked car. The temperature inside a vehicle can quickly approach dangerous levels on hot days, so pet owners should never leave their pets in parked cars, even if they leave the air conditioning on and the engine running. The HSUS notes that on an 85-degree day, temperatures inside cars with slightly cracked windows can reach 102 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. Rather than taking pets with you on car trips, leave them at home inside a comfortably air conditioned room where they won't be vulnerable to rising temperatures.
• Change pet's exercise regimen. Pet owners who make sure their pets get daily exercise should change such routines when temperatures are on the rise. Midday walks or jogs should be switched to evenings or early mornings, when temperatures tend to be at their most moderate. In addition, cut back on the time spent exercising, as pets may have trouble breathing on hot days. When taking your dog for a jog or a run in the summertime, do so on the grass, avoiding asphalt, as hot asphalt can do significant damage to your pet's paws.
• Be mindful of your breed. Dog owners should recognize that certain dogs can handle the heat better than others. Short-nosed breeds have a harder time in extreme heat because their shorter airways don't allow as much time for the air they breathe in to cool as dogs with longer noses. In addition, the HSUS points out that dogs with white-colored ears are more susceptible to skin cancer than other dogs, making it imperative that owners of such dogs reduce their exposure to the sun on hot days when the UV index is especially dangerous.
• Let dogs inside. Doghouses might not be as prevalent as they once were, but many owners still keep doghouses in their backyards so their four-legged friends have a place to relax outdoors on lazy afternoons. But doghouses can be similar to parked cars on especially hot days, making rising temperatures feel even hotter. Let dogs hang out inside in an air conditioned room on hot days to reduce their risk of heatstroke.
• Learn to recognize the signs of heatstroke. Pets suffering from heatstroke will exhibit certain symptoms, and pet owners who learn to recognize those symptoms can do something about them before it's too late. Heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, and lack of coordination are just a few potential indicators that a pet is suffering from heatstroke. Animals that are very old, very young, overweight, and unaccustomed to prolonged exercise, as well as those who have heart or respiratory conditions, are especially susceptible to heatstroke. Learn more about pets and heatstroke at www.humanesociety.org.
Extreme heat can be dangerous to pets, who often suffer in silence when dealing with the consequences of extreme heat. Pet owners who take certain precautions and learn to recognize signs of a pet struggling with heat can better protect their animals from succumbing to rising temperatures.