Summer time in Texas means more time to play outside, go swimming, and soak up the sun. However, warmer temperatures also mean that pets may be more susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. To help pet owners avoid these risks, Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, offered some insight.
“Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are major problems for pets in the summer, especially in short nosed breeds, such a pug or a bulldog,” Eckman said. “These conditions can occur during hot and humid days and even cooler days, if your pets aren’t accustomed to the heat.”
Heat exhaustion is the early stages of a heat stroke and causes lethargy, vomiting, and weakness. Following continued exercise or exposure to heat, Eckman said a heat stroke can occur with more severe signs, including extreme lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and pale mucous membranes. This can lead significant problems up to and including death if not recognized and treated immediately.
Other dangers pets may face in the summer heat include paw pad burns from walking on hot concrete. If your dog is going to be active outside when it is hot, be sure to keep them off concrete or asphalt for extended periods of time. You can also provide your pet with other means of exercise, such as playing indoors or in the grass.
Eckman added that leaving pets in the car or bed of a truck is also a bad idea. This can also lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“Even if there is a breeze outside, there is no shade or water in the bed of a truck, so the temperature can really heat up,” Eckman said.
Though it may seem like a quick-fix to put your pet in cold water if they do become overheated, Eckman said it is best to slowly cool down your pet to avoid causing more internal heat.
“Some people will try to provide ice water baths for overheated pets; this can actually make them retain heat internally,” Eckman said. “Instead, bring the overheated pet inside and provide them with cool water and a fan. Wetting a towel and putting it on the pet’s coat also may be helpful.”
Other tips for keeping your pet cool during the summer include providing a dog house, a shallow kiddie pool, and enough cool water. Also, try to exercise your pet during the cooler parts of the day, such as the morning or evening.
Whether your pet lives primarily indoors or outdoors, it is important to protect your pet from the heat this summer season.