You know to prepare yourself for the dangers associated with increased temperatures. As the dog days of summer approach, however, our trusted companions also need special attention to keep them safe and healthy.
Hot Weather Safety for Dogs
Here are some important tips for keeping your dog cool this summer:
- Keep your dog indoors, in air conditioning, on very hot days.
- Do not leave your dog in a car — even on milder days. A Stanford University study found that even on a 72 degree day, a car’s internal temperature can rise to 116 degrees within one hour.
- When planning an outing with your dog, pay attention to the heat index, which also factors in humidity. The thermometer may say 85 degrees, but it may feel like 101 degrees outside.
- Keep fresh, cool water available at all times.
- On very hot days, exercise dogs early in the morning or late in the evening. If this is not possible, exercise in an air conditioned or cool environment.
- On hot days, keep your dog’s contact with asphalt to a minimum. When the temperature is high, asphalt can get very hot. This can cause your dog’s body to heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn.
- If your dog has a light coat or exposed skin, take precautions against sunburn.
Dogs can acclimate to warm temperatures and have no trouble spending time outside. However, dogs that are used to cool climates or air conditioning should not be outside for extended periods of time on hot days. Gradually acclimating your dog is the key.
Hot Weather Safety for Cats
While cats in NYC generally stay indoors, they too can be at risk due to hotter weather. When pet parents open their windows and perhaps allow their beloved companions to sun themselves on fire escapes, balconies and terraces, there is a serious risk of High Rise Syndrome. High Rise Syndrome refers to injuries that result from falls from high places – and veterinarians see a significant increase in these cases in the summer.
To prevent your cat from suffering a potentially fatal fall-related injury, make sure there are secure screens or — better yet — bars on any open windows in your apartment. Do not let your cat venture out onto a fire escape or unsecured balcony or terrace. Unlike the bark of trees, the surfaces in these areas offer no place for a cat to cling to with their claws, increasing the chance they will lose their footing and fall.
Cats generally handle warmer temperatures better than dogs, but you should also keep watch for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Keep plenty of fresh, cool water available throughout your apartment. If you don’t have air conditioning, consider wrapping your cat in a cool, damp towel or placing a plastic bag full of ice under their bed on extremely hot days.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Pets: What You Need to Know
Summer brings an increased danger of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for dogs and cats.
Dogs mainly cool themselves by panting, or breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. However, in the hotter days of summer there are times when panting won’t be enough to handle the heat building up inside their bodies. Depending on your dog, heat-related problems can occur even during a walk around the block or while swimming.
Signs that your pet is overheating include excessive panting and salivation, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, glazed eyes and mild weakness. More severe symptoms include confusion, bright red or purple gums and tongue, seizures, vomiting and collapse.
If your pet’s body temperature rises to 107 degrees, he or she becomes very warm to the touch and is at serious risk of heat stroke. With heat stroke, damage to the body can be irreversible. Organs begin to shut down, and veterinary care is immediately needed. Pets with flat faces that can’t pant as effectively, like Pugs, Boxers, Bull Dogs and Persian cats, and pets that are old, obese or have health problems are the most susceptible to heat stroke.
What to Do if You Think Your Pet Has Heat Stroke
If you think your pet is experiencing heat stroke, please call Long Island City Veterinary Center immediately. Quickly get your dog out of the sun and cool him or her down with a cool (NOT cold) water bath. Provide a fan, especially if you wet your dog down, and encourage him or her to drink water.
To cool your cat down, apply towels soaked in cool water to your cat’s skin. Immersion in a cool water bath for 30 minutes may also help lower your cat’s temperature. While on the way to our veterinary office, place ice packs around your cat’s head and body.
Remember, heat stroke can be fatal if left untreated.
Heat Stroke Prevention for Your Pet
You can significantly reduce or eliminate your pet’s risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke by:
- Keeping him indoors on hot days and exercising before 9 am and after 7pm.
- Making sure clean, cool water is available at all times — including during any outings.
- Keeping your pet well-groomed but not trimming fur excessively. Fur can keep your pet comfortable by trapping cool air next to the skin, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the hot outside air to the body. Instead, make sure matted or tangled hair is clipped, as these conditions can trap heat.
- Maintaining your pet’s health weight, as overweight pets are also at an increased risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Summer on Long Island City can be a carefree, fun time you and your pet, so long as you both play it safe and keep cool. Please call Long Island City Veterinary Center (718) 383-VETS if you have any questions or concerns about your pet this summer.