Summers in Austin are long, hot and humid. Animals, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors, often struggle to keep cool because they don’t process heat as effectively as we do.
You may think your pet is used to the heat, but pets exposed to high temperatures are susceptible to heat exhaustion and potentially deadly heat stroke. That’s why it’s important to know the warning signs of heat stroke and exhaustion in dogs and cats:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive drooling
- Abnormal gum and tongue color
If you notice any of these symptoms, start cooling measures right away by wrapping your pet in wet towels (use lukewarm water, not cold) and putting your pet in front of a fan to help reduce body temperature.
Once you’ve begun the cool-down, it’s crucial to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the severity of your pet’s condition, as he or she may need additional medical attention. The fact is that animals can sustain brain damage or die from heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes.
Plan ahead for your pat’s safety this summer with these tips:
- It should go without saying,but never leave your pet unattended in the car on a warm day. With a window cracked on a 70o day, the inside of your car can reach 100o in as little as 15 minutes in direct sunlight. Even parked in the shade on a hot day, the combination of little air flow, humidity and your pet’s warm breath can turn a vehicle interior into an oven very quickly.
- Hot asphalt will scorch your pet’s paws. Before you head out for a walk, put your own palm on the pavement. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pooch. Best to take that walk, hike, or run in the cooler morning or evening hours—but even then, check the pavement first.
- While trimming long-haired pets can help them feel better in the summer months, shaving is not recommended, as fur also serves as insulation from the sun’s harsh rays.You might also consider putting sunscreen on your pet if they’re going to be outdoors in direct sun for an extended time. This is especially important for light-skinned dogs and those with white fur or hair.
- Make sure outdoor animals always have shade and unlimited cool, clean water. A doghouse designed to trap a dog’s body heat does not shade pets, and in fact does just the opposite. On the hottest days, your pet should have access to an air-conditioned space to cool down, particularly if you have a breed with a flat face, such as a pug, Boston terrier or Persian cat.
You can find out more about summer and heat-related dangers for pets on the ASPCA website.