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Posts Tagged ‘Pet Safety in Summer Heat’

Pet Safety in the Summer Heat. By Our Student Pharmacist, Ray Chu.


Summer is here in full force! A time for fun in the sun for our whole family, but it’s important that we keep in mind how to ensure that our four-legged family members stay safe in the heat, too.

As the heat rises, like it will this weekend, we know how to keep ourselves cool and we can tell when our children get too hot, but our pets respond differently to the heat and even differently to how they cool down. For example, did you know that a fan would be perfect for us but doesn’t work well to cool down dogs and cats?

This first point is mentioned over and over, but it’s so important that I feel like I have to mention it, as well. Please do not leave your pet in the car, even for a couple minutes. Tragically, pets die every year due to poor judgment by their owners. Cracking the window does not work to keep the car cool enough.

Take a look at the chart at the bottom of this posting to see how hot it can get in your car.

It doesn’t even need to be a hot day for a car to overheat. On a 70-degree day, within 10 minutes, the interior of a car will reach 89 degrees. These temperatures were all tested with the windows cracked.

Once a dog reaches over 107 degrees, they are in serious danger for irreversible organ damage and impending death – and that’s only approximately 10 minutes on an 85-degree day. It will be much hotter than that this weekend.

Many pets love to spend time outside, but on hot days make sure they have plenty of access to shade and cool water to drink. An enclosed doghouse can actually get really hot inside, so it’s best to have shade with lots of airflow like the shade of a large tree or a covered porch. Add ice to the cool water every so often.

We humans can sweat to cool off, but our furry friends cannot. The best way to help them cool themselves internally is to give them cool water to drink. If you like to exercise with your pet, do it in the cooler hours of the day like the early morning or late evening. Take frequent breaks and make sure to bring lots of water with you to let your pet have a drink.


Speaking of having your pet outside, it is important to make sure that the ground is not too hot for them. Many of our pets will not make a fuss if the ground is too hot for them to walk on, even if it is burning them. Their paws may be tough, but they can still be burned. An easy way to check is to place your own hand on the ground for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. On an 86 degree day, asphalt can easily reach 135 degrees. An egg would fry in five minutes in that temperature!

Many of us must leave our pets at home when we leave for work or other activities. When we leave our pets at home, again, we must make sure they have access to plenty of cool water. The house itself can get very hot, as well. Many owners will turn their air conditioning off when they leave the house. This can be very dangerous for our pets since the temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels for our pets. The problem is compounded when we are not there to replenish their water bowls. If you do not want to have the air conditioning on as low as when you are in the house, consider setting it to a more conservative temperature like 75 degrees when you leave your pets at home.

So I’ve talked about how to keep your pets cool, but how do we recognize when our pets are overheating, or worse yet, having a heat stroke. Some signs to keep an eye out for are:

  • Heavy Panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy (or just really slow and tired acting)
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Salivating a lot
  • Vomiting
  • A tongue that is deep red or purple in color
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

What do we do if we find our pets in heat stroke?

We should immediately move them into the shade, or even better, into an air conditioned room. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest. We should also run cool (but not cold!) water over those same areas. Let the pet drink small amounts of cool water and, most importantly, take them directly to a veterinarian.

Here are links to some other good articles on the subject: