Keep pets cool during heat wave, vet says
With the heat index expected to top 100 degrees Saturday, keeping the family’s four-legged companion cool is as important as keep the two-legged humans from boiling in the summer sun.
“You don’t ever want to get them overheated. The only way dogs have to remove heat is by panting,” said Dr. Henry Croft, a veterinarian who has operated Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic in Stahlstown since 1980.
For those accustomed to walking their dog as part of their daily routine, Croft recommends taking them outside early in the morning or in the evening, after the peak of the day’s heat.
Even if they are walking in the morning or night, Croft said pet owners should take along water to quench the pup’s thirst. A pet owner could take a spritzer on the walk, to spray their dog as they go for their daily exercise, Croft said.
It not just the temperature that affects the pet, but the humidity as well, said Dr. Barry Kellogg of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
“Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves,” Kellogg said.
Keep in mind, Croft said, that when walking the pet along the street, asphalt can get extremely hot. As much as the owner would not want to walk barefoot on heated pavement, neither would the dog.
“It’s a bad burn. It will strip the outer layer of their paw,” Croft said.
If pets are outside playing in the yard, it is best to keep them in a shaded area, with a bowl of water containing ice cubes, Croft said.
One of the cardinal sins for a pet owner in this weather is to leave the dog or cat in the car if they are running errands. Cracking a window to let some air into the car is not sufficient to keep the pet cool, Croft said.
”The temperature inside can rise more than 20 degrees in a matter of minutes, and that can be deadly,” according to Kristen Seymour, a former editor at AOL’s Paw Nation and then Vetstreet.com.
Symptoms of an overheated dog include:
- excessive drooling
- difficulty breathing or heavy panting
- increased heart rate
“If you dog gets overheated, get them in the shade or a cool place and get them to an emergency clinic right away,” Croft said. “The most important action, however, is to prevent it from happening” in the first place.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .