Keep Your Pet Safe, Healthy During Hot Weather

Pet Safety
Download the Pet First Aid App to have veterinary advice close at hand.

Summer weather can pose certain dangers for your pets. The American Red Cross has some steps people can take to keep the family pet safe and healthy this summer.

The first step is to know what is normal for your pet – their gum color, heart/pulse rate, body temperature and breathing rate - so you can recognize when something is wrong.

Heat stroke is a problem for pets in the warmer weather and is more common in the early summer because pets are not yet acclimated to the warm weather. Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are prone to heat stroke. This is also true for any obese pet, a pet with an extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems.

Some signs your pet may be developing heat stroke include heavy panting and being unable to calm down, even when lying down. Their gum color may be brick red, their pulse rate may be fast, or they may not be able to get up. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, take their temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees cool the animal down. The easiest way to do this is by using the water hose. Stop cooling the animal when the temperature reaches 103 degrees. Bring your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.

As the weather gets nicer, many pet owners take their pets in the car with them. Do not leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees.

Pet owners also need to be aware that animals may try to get out a window or door, which are more likely to be open as the weather warms. And some plants in your garden can be hazardous to animals. For instance, many lilies are very poisonous to cats. Visit the ASPCA Poison Control information to find out which plants and flowers are poisonous to animals.

You can download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app to have veterinary advice in the palm of your hand. The app features first aid steps for more than 25 common pet situations and identifies common substances that are toxic to animals.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.