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July 9, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Pets Need Protection From The Heat, Too!

The recent heat wave across the Northeast has me thinking more and more about our furry friends and how the hot weather affects them. It’s not just humans who can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke your lovable pets can, too, especially if they’re left in cars during a hot summer day. Did you know the inside of your car can reach 120ºF in a matter of minutes in warm weather even if you’re parked in the shade? The rule of thumb is that if you’re going somewhere your pet can’t go with you, leave them at home. [Never leave your pet in a parked car.]

If you have a dog that just loves to run and play fetch outdoors, caution needs to be taken in order to make sure he or she doesn’t overexert themselves. It’s important to remember many dogs won’t stop playing fetch if you keep throwing a Frisbee or ball over and over again. On a hot day, a heatstroke can come on quickly, especially when they’re unaccustomed to the heat and humidity or they’re out of shape. Also, short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, boxers and pekingese are most at risk because their nasal cavities are not long enough. Try to avoid the heat of the day and if you want to play with your pet outdoors, do it in the early morning or late evening. Make sure they have plenty of water and that they drink it frequently.

Dog excessively panting. Image:

Watch your pet for signs of tiring and a lot of panting. If your dog is panting and its tongue sticks out pretty far this will indicate they need a break. Remember that dogs and cats can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet as they don’t perspire like we do. Pets left in hot cars or pets that get overexerted outdoors can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage and can even die. You should be aware of the signs of heat stress, which could include very heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue.


If your pet does become overheated, his/her body temperature needs to be lowered immediately. Get your pet out of the sun and moved into a shaded area. To gradually lower their body’s core temperature, apply cool but not cold water all over their body. Apply cold towels or ice packs to your pet’s head, neck and chest only. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Most importantly, get them to a vet immediately.

Although we’ll be dealing with the heat a while longer, hopefully you and mans best friend can find a way to cool down this summer!

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