Parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona are experiencing a brutal heat wave with temperatures rising above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in cities like San Francisco (100), Las Vegas (102), Sacramento (103), and Phoenix (109). If you live in one of these areas, you’re probably cranking up your air conditioner, but remember to stay hydrated, limit your time outdoors and in the sun, and be on the lookout for signs of heatstroke, such as intense headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, a sudden lack of sweating even in extreme heat, muscle cramps, and a rapid heartbeat.
But your pets and those of your neighbors and loved ones will also feel the effects of the latest heat wave. Learn how to keep your pets safe when dealing with extreme heat.
Keeping Pets Safe in Hot Weather
Any time the temperature surpasses 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you should take precautions when traveling with your pet or taking them outside. Follow these rules to keep your pets safe in extreme heat:
- Limit outdoor activity, including walks, to the coolest parts of the day, such as mornings and evenings.
- Leave your pet at home whenever possible and give them plenty of water.
- Never leave your pet in a locked car, even if the air conditioner is on. The temperature inside a locked car can easily skyrocket to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes, even if the temperature outside is just 80 degrees.
- When walking your pet, avoid asphalt and other paved surfaces. Walk your pet on the grass whenever possible or in the shade. Bring plenty of water on your walk to keep your pet hydrated. Add a few cubes of ice to the water to further cool them down.
- Be mindful with white-eared pets, which can be susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, which can have trouble breathing.
- Never rely solely on fans when cooling down your pet. Fans do have the same cooling effect on pets as they do on humans.
- Avoid obstructing the pet’s airflow by locking them in tight spaces, such as a doghouse, even if they’re out of the sun.
- Feed your pet cold treats such as frozen peanut butter or some other nutritious food.
- Give your pet a cool bath indoors to help them stay cool at home.
Signs Your Pet Suffering from Heatstroke
Younger, older, overweight pets and those not used to regular exercise are particularly susceptible to heat stroke. Be on the lookout for these signs your pet is having a heatstroke:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of coordination
- Profuse saliva
- Deep red or purple tongue
- And unconsciousness
Dogs and other animals pant to evaporate the moisture from their lungs, which removes heat from their body. But if the temperature or humidity gets too high, animals can’t pant fast enough to cool themselves down, which rapidly increases their internal temperature.
A dog’s internal temperature should never get above 102 degrees, according to The Humane Society. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, take their internal temperature with a thermometer to double check.
Treating Your Pet’s Heatstroke
If your pet’s internal temperature is quickly rising or gets above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, quickly bring your pet indoors to a cool, preferably air-conditioned environment.
Once inside, put ice packs or cold towels on their head, neck and chest. You can also run cool water over them in the bath, but make sure the water isn’t cold. Give them small amounts of cool water or let them lick ice cubes. Once you’ve completed these steps, take them to the closest veterinarian for immediate medical attention.
Keep these tips in mind as you and your pet grapple with the effects of the latest heat wave. Spread the word to your family, friends and colleagues to make sure everyone keeps their pets safe.