It’s going to be extremely hot for the next week over most of the country, affecting millions of people and their pets. The American Red Cross offers these tips you can follow to help keep your pets safe when the temperatures rise:
- Never leave your pets in a parked car. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees even with the windows cracked open. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.
- On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
- Provide ample shade and water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
- Animals can suffer heat stroke, a common problem for pets in the warmer weather.
- Dogs with short noses or snouts, like the boxer or bulldog, are especially prone to heat stroke, along with overweight pets, those with extremely thick fur coat or any pet with upper respiratory problems such as laryngeal paralysis or a collapsing trachea.
- Some of the signs of heat stroke in your pet are:
- Heavy panting and unable to calm down, even when lying down;
- Brick red gum color;
- Fast pulse rate; and
- He or she is unable 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.
Pet owners can download the free Red Cross Pet First Aid app for step-by-step instructions for first aid emergencies, a pet profile for storing tag ID, photo and medical information, early warning signs for when to contact a veterinarian and an animal hospital locator. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
You can also take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online. In this online course, you will learn the basics in caring for cats and dogs to caring for the most critical emergency situations - including breathing and cardiac emergencies, wounds, bleeding and seizures.