Texas + Summer = Hot
With temperatures that can reach over 100º F in many parts of Texas this summer, it’s important that we remember that our pets need special care during the warm months to keep them healthy and happy. The normal body temperatures of most domestic animals ranges from 100º to 101º – anything over 102º is considered a serious indication of a disease process. Cellular damage of the internal organs begins to occur when the core body temperature reaches 106º; so keeping all of our animals cool is essential for their well being.
Did You Know?
Brachycephalic dogs and cats – those animals with the pushed-in faces like Boston terriers, pugs, and Persian cats – can find it particularly hard to breathe in warmer weather. Leaving these pets indoors and only taking them on very short walks can keep them safe during hot days.
Long-haired animals also feel more from the heat. Grooming your pets, even those with short coats, can keep them comfortable as the seasons change. If you choose to shave away some the coat, remember to leave at least 1-inch of topcoat to protect your pet from sunburn. You may need to use pet-approved sunscreen if you shave all the way down to the skin.
Hot Weather Tips
Try walking and exercising your pets either early in the morning, before the sun comes up and the heat of the day can begin to bake the ground and the sidewalks, or at dusk, once the ground cools. Hot asphalt and concrete can burn your dog’s paws and make it hard for him to walk.
Provide fresh drinking water at all times for your pets. Take it with you on walks and make sure there is plenty of free choice water for your animal to drink when you get home.
Take note that your cats – particularly those that like to lie in a sunny window – can get sunburns on their ears, noses, and bellies in hot weather.
Take care with your smaller pets as well. Rabbits, birds, hamsters, pet rats and mice, and gerbils are especially sensitive to heat and cannot handle hot temperatures for extended periods of time. Keep their cages out of direct sunlight and always ensure they have cool, clean water.
If your dogs go to the beach or pool with you, provide them with plenty of fresh water and shade. Watch for hot concrete and hot sand burning their paws. Like humans, your pooch can get sunburned while playing in the water, so you may need to use water-repellent sunscreen specially formulated for dogs.
Because dogs do not sweat – they release extra body heat through panting – be aware to watch your pet’s breathing for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These conditions can appear quite suddenly on a warm day, and your dog will need immediate attention and veterinary care to avoid becoming extremely ill or even dying. Some of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke are listed below.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy panting, gasping for air, huffing and puffing even after minimal exercise
- Abnormally rapid heartbeat along with the rapid breathing
- Pet appears mentally dazed, becomes ataxic (walks with a stumbling gait), collapses and can’t get up, or faints
- Uncontrollable vomiting
- Seizure-like tremors caused by muscle cramps
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
- Struggling for breath, rapid, open-mouthed breathing or loud, heaving panting
- The sudden stopping of panting
- Very high body temperature over 104º
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Excessive drooling or frothing at the mouth with dark, red gums
- Anxiety or agitation, confusion, dizziness, uncoordinated walking or pacing
- Lethargy or weakness
- Absent, vacant stare with dilated pupils or glazed eyes
- Muscle tremors, collapse, fainting, shaking or seizures
If you suspect your pet is suffering from either heat exhaustion or heat stroke, there are some things you can do to stabilize her BEFORE you get her to your vet’s office. You should:
- Move your animal to a well-shaded area out of the sun, either under a tree or into an air-conditioned building.
- Take the temperature rectally if at all possible. This is information your veterinarian will need to provide her with the best possible treatment.
- Offer your pet a small amount of tepid water to drink. Make sure the water is not icy or too cold, and only allow her to lap up a tiny amount. Drinking large amounts of water could cause her to vomit. If she refuses the water, open her mouth and wipe around her tongue and airway with a clean, wet rag to remove any fluid or mucous and allow for freer breathing or panting.
- Sponge or rinse your pet’s body with COOL, not cold, water. Cold water can cause her blood vessels to constrict, throwing her into shock. Pay particular attention to her head, tummy, and groin, as these are the areas that can get overheated very quickly.
- Place a fan on her damp body to alleviate some of the heat. Cooling air helps the evaporating water cool her down faster. If a fan is not available – and you know your pup won’t become agitated – use your towel or a newspaper to fan the air around her.
- Be prepared to perform CPR if she stops breathing or you lose a heartbeat.
- Transport your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. She will most likely need intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacements and can only receive that treatment in clinic.
Leaving a pet in a parked car on a warm day – even with the windows cracked – is a recipe for disaster.
Did you know the temperature in your car…
…can rise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes?
…can increase 29 degrees in just 20 minutes?
…can go up 34 degrees in 30 minutes?
…can be 43 degrees warmer in an hour?
That means, on a typical Texas summer day reaching 95º F, the inside of your car could hit 129º in just 20 minutes, and your beloved companion could become very sick or even die, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
If you suspect your pet is a showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, seek immediate veterinary care.