How to protect your pets during the heatwave

Dr. Leanne Eggert of Creekside Veterinary clinic provides some tips on how to keep your pets and animals safe during extreme heat.

• Animals in the heat will drink a lot, so make sure to keep water dishes filled. 

• Always offer access to shade and ideally, during the hottest times of the day, keep them in the cooler indoors. If there’s no access to air conditioning, consider offering bottles of frozen water wrapped in towels for cooling. 

• Dogs and cats can’t cool off by sweating like we do. Dogs pant to get that evaporative cooling, and while that’s normal, it shouldn’t be extreme or desperate panting. If a cat is panting, that’s extremely unusual and may be a sign of overheating.

• Keep play sessions to the early morning or late evening. Running and playing in the heat of the day can quickly cause overheating. 

• Without shoes, dogs and cats are vulnerable to burning from hot pavement. So check the pavement temperature for comfort and consider having that outdoor time at night or early in the morning.

• Don’t leave them in a vehicle! Vehicles heat up quickly and are very dangerous.

• For our exotic pets, make sure to use thermometers to assure that their enclosures don’t get too hot. Fish tank heaters and reptile lights may need to be turned down during the summer to avoid excessive environmental temperatures. 

Also, look out for signs of heat stress, which include:

• Anxiousness

• Excessive panting

• Excessive drooling

• Restlessness

• Unsteadiness or disorientation

• Abnormal gum and tongue color – can vary, but be out of the ordinary for that pet

• Collapsation

• Vomiting or diarrhea

• Rectal temperature over 104 degrees Fahrenheit for most dogs, cats or small mammals

If a pet is having symptoms of heat stress, contact a veterinarian. 

In general, if we’re staying cool and comfortable, and our pets are hanging out calmly with us, they’re probably going to be alright too.