Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Medical Issues: Help your pet beat the heat!

Some folks in the U.S. are experiencing a record high heat wave this summer. As the temps soar, please don't forget your pet is affected by this, too.

Here are a few tips on how you can help them beat the heat - and possibly save a life in the process.

Heat Stroke

A cameraman I often work with told me about a shoot where the crew was filming in a home. It’s customary for the occupants to leave while we take over their home (they’re compensated quite nicely for their trouble).

The family had a lovely, friendly family dog who was also removed from the home. No one informed the film crew about the dog, nor that she was being exposed to excessive heat.

At the end of the shoot as the crew was loading out of the home, they discovered this beautiful dog - she had collapsed and was not breathing.

The crew - many of them animal lovers - were horrified. They did everything they could think of to revive her. They administered CPR, wet her down to cool her off, anything they could think of - but she was beyond their help.  Sadly, the family lost their beloved companion that day.

Dogs and cats can succumb to heat exhaustion and heat stroke far faster than people realize. And it can be fatal.

 Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to):
  • body temperatures of 104-110F degrees
  • excessive panting
  • dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • sticky or dry tongue and gums
  • staggering
  • stupor
  • seizures
  • bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • coma
  • death
Please be aware of these danger signals and seek veterinary attention immediately. You may save your pet's life.

 Made in the Shade

Is your pet an indoor/outdoor pet? If so, make sure shade is available to your pet at all times. And always have water available for them.  It needs to be placed in the shade as well, and secure it to avoid any accidental spills.

A fun summertime tip to help your dog beat the heat is to freeze water or broth with a fave rubber toy inside. As the block melts and the toy is revealed, it'll encourage your pet to ingest more of the wet stuff, helping him to stay hydrated.

Hot Feet Alert!

When walking your pet, remember: paw pads are sensitive and can be burned from walking on hot asphalt. OUCH! Choose grass if possible.

Pavement Test:  Press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt for 7 seconds. If it's too uncomfortable for you, it's too uncomfortable for your pet's paws. Why would you make your dog or cat do something you wouldn’t do?

Do you run regularly with your dog? Consider this: as the days get hotter, you alter your attire to compensate. Your faithful friend can’t – he’s wearing the same fur coat 24/7, 365 days out of the year.

In hot weather like much of the U.S. is experiencing, please…go running alone, and leave your dog back home where it’s cool & comfy.

Chill, dude!

photo courtesy abby on flickr
If your pet spends any length of time outdoors, sometimes - like in much of the midwest this week - the heat and humidity can be so oppressive, there's no real relief, even in the shade. Especially if there's no breeze to be had, either!

A simple and effective way you can make your family pet feel more comfortable is to apply the principle of evaporative cooling.

Soak a large towel in cold water and use it to wet down your pet. (Yes, it works with cats, too. Though they probably won't thank you for it...!)

A Summer Haircut? Maybe not.

Shaving your pet to keep him cool may sound like a good idea, but it may not always be the best answer.

Check with your vet or groomer for alternatives to shaving. The ASPCA recommends the "one-inch" cut to help keep your pet beat the heat, yet still have some protection from the sun.

Light-skinned animals can sunburn easily! And – surprise! – they can even sunburn inside your home while sunning themselves in front of a window in your family room.

Check with your vet to see if your pet needs extra protection. Warning: many sunblocks are harmful to cats. 

For more information on the best way to protect your cat from sunburn, read our post on it, here.

Dogs do not "call shotgun" in the heat!

Does your dog love to ride in the car with you wherever you go? As much as you may love his companionship, please...leave your pet at home, not in the car.

Leaving your pet in a car for just a few minutes can be deadly! Just ask Amy of Sebastian the Sensitive Soul. She recently encountered a distraught family who had left their family dog in the car...and lost him to heat stroke. Their five year old son refused to be consoled. He had just lost his best friend.

This is serious stuff, folks. Take a look at this study on the temps inside a closed car.  Don’t have time to click through and view? No worries – we’ll give you a quick sneak peek.

The study begins with data from inside a car at 9 AM when the outside temp is only 82 degrees. Ready for the car temp? Hold onto your hats. Inside that car, the temp was an unbearable 109°.

Last Saturday's high in our area was 107. Wanna guess how hot the inside of a car will be on a day like that? 1-oh-DEADLY.

Take a look at this video recently posted by a veterinarian - he takes you with him, into a hot car for 30 minutes....

If you see a dog left inside a car, call 9-1-1 immediately! Then, if you can, locate the owner. At the very least, leave notice that what they are doing can have fatal consequences: here are free flyers you can print out to leave on cars with dogs left unattended.


We hope you find these tips helpful. Please feel free to share. Who knows? They may help save the life of a pet!



  1. Stay cool! Have a good Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. My oomans won't even let me outside in my kritterkondo when it's this hot.

  3. Excellent post. We stay indoors all the time in the AC. We didn't realize we could get sunburned by "sunning" in the windows.

  4. good points all!!! mom got worried about all us when the power and a/c wasn't working - luckily it came back pretty quick.

  5. One thing that is wonderful to know is happening more by us, in stores if someone reports a pet in a car on a sunny day (or even partially sunny, this is the PNW after all) even when it's not that warm (the high was 67 one day when I heard this and was surprised), the cashier called out the license plate and make and said there was a dog in this car, panting, please attend to your pet, you shouldn't leave them unattended in the heat.

    1. Oh that's so pawesome that these stores help out in this way! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I never thought about how hot the asphalt can get until one day some months back when we had just finished our walk in the park and were waiting to get into the car when we noticed Whisky lifting off her paw, one at a time, continuously. It was less than a minute, but oh, how horrible it must have been for her. As our weather is consistently hot, and most of our parks do not allow dogs, going for walks is very we play a lot in our own garden. :)

    1. Wow, we'll bet it's hot where you are! Gardens are a nice alternative!

  7. Your post is SOOOOO important!

    It's rarely hot here (San Francisco), but a few months ago on a somewhat warmish day, The Human saw a doggie in a car next to her as she was parking. She waited for a few minutes and then went into Target & asked the manager for help--the Big A$$hole would not call the cops because, yes, the window was cracked a little (like THAT helps!!) so the Human went back to the car and waited like 40 minutes till the owner came back.

    She had decided that she would just break a window if the little doggie had looked distressed. When the lady finally came back, the Human forced herself to be nice-ish and just say how very worried she had been about the doggie--it did kind of work because the owner was real apologetic and embarrassed. The Human wanted to scream and throttle the lady but she hopes that the "concerned" approach had a better effect. She doesn't know though--maybe she shoulda yelled at the lady.

    I *was* kind of proud of the Human though. Even though I don't often approve of her.

    1. Spitty, it's obvious you've trained your Human very well indeed! We're terribly proud of her too!!

  8. Great post!
    Too many peoples is not aware of what heat does to those that can't gets away from it.

  9. Dad and Mom always either find the owner, or call animal services...whether a dog, cat or child...yes, Adult Peeps can be totally dumb!!1


Coolio! A comment? For US?