Five Precautions to Keep Pets Safe in Hot Weather

Did you know that your pet can’t sweat? That’s right: Dogs and cats don’t have any sweat glands, like we people do, to help keep them cool in the warmer weather. 

The only way your animal companion can get rid of excessive heat is through breathing (panting is common in dogs but often a sign of a more serious problem in cats). This ability to get rid of extra heat diminishes as the outside temperature rises and eventually reaches the point where your animal’s temperature just keeps climbing.
So while the warm, sunny months of summer can be a wonderful time, there are some precautions you should take to make sure your dog or cat stays safe and avoids heatstroke.
1) Never leave your pet in the car alone ... ever! This cannot be stressed enough and is one of the most common causes of heatstroke in animals. Just a few minutes in the sun, and your car can turn deadly for your dog or cat.
2) Always provide your animal access to clean, cool drinking water and shade. Breathing and panting work very well to regulate body heat in cats and dogs, but also cause them to get dehydrated (just like humans when we sweat). Having a shady spot to relax is one of the best ways for your pet to cool down.
3) Take it easy on walks and runs with your pet, especially on an unseasonably warm day. This is even more important for certain breeds with short noses that have trouble breathing regardless of the temperature, such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers or Himalayan cats.
4) Listen to your pet. If your pet seems to be running out of energy or is having trouble catching his or her breath (more panting than usual in dogs), let your pet rest. Many dogs will keep going in spite of the need to rest when their owners ask them to keep playing or exercising.
5) Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of heatstroke: excessive panting, collapse, vomiting, diarrhea and/or seizures. If you notice these signs and symptoms (particularly collapse and seizures), contact your regular veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary facility.
With a little education and care, you and your pet can have a safe and enjoyable summer and avoid a frightening (and sometimes costly) visit to the veterinarian.

PVH offers comprehensive care for dogs and cats: 360.568.3113. Located at 11308 92nd Street SE, Snohomish. 24/7 emergency care available.


Written by Fred Tucker, DVM, during his time as a small-animal ER veterinarian at PVH