How, where to cool animals down when temps soar 

courtesy of The Humane Society

Summer can be an uncomfortable—even dangerous—time for pets and people. It’s difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, but things really get tough in areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes with tragic results.

We can help you keep yourself and your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on (and even if the power isn’t). Start with the basics.

Practice basic summer safety

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.

If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact the nearest animal shelter or police. Spread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars by talking to them and by printing out our Hot Car flyer (PDF), posting it in public places, and sharing it with your friends, family, and coworkers. (It might help convince some people if you point out that leaving a pet in a car is an invitation to theft—of the car, the pet, or both—especially if the windows are cracked.)

Print our Hot Car flyer and spread the life-saving word »

Watch the humidity

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions for treating heat stroke.

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet.  Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Don’t rely on a fan

Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out

Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut-butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut-butter or another favorite food.)

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days.

Watch for signs of heatstroke

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short, smushed muzzles, will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

 What to do if you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Read this before you lose electricity

If a summer storm has taken out the power in your home, there are critical things you can do to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.

If you leave when the power goes out, take pets with you.

If you’re forced to leave your home because you’ve lost electricity, don’t leave your pets behind. Even just an hour or two in the sweltering heat, whether outdoors in a yard or inside an apartment, mobile home, or house, can be dangerous for an animal. If you need to find a cool place to stay, contact your local government emergency management office for pet-friendly shelter information, or contact pet-friendly hotels and motels outside the affected areas.

Ask about any restrictions on number, size, and species. Inquire if the “no pet” policies would be waived in an emergency.

Find a pet-friendly hotel

If you can’t find a hotel or shelter, check with friends, relatives or others outside your immediate area. Ask if they would be able to shelter you and your animals or just your animals, if necessary. If you have more than one pet, you may need to house them at separate locations.

Some boarding facilities and veterinary offices might be able to shelter animals in emergencies. Your local animal shelter will probably won’t have room to board your pets during this heat emergency, but they may be able to recommend alternate facilities.

If you stay, keep your pets cool

If your power’s out, and you decide to ride out the heat with your pets at home, keep windows and doors open for air ventilation, but cover them with shades or sheets to keep the sunlight out. Make sure you and your pets drink as much water as possible. Pets outdoors must have access to shade—if you don’t have tree shade, hang a tarp or sheet to create some. Don’t put your pet in a dog house—it makes the heat worse.

Stay Safe USA!

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