Summer’s heat can be dangerous for your family pets and this year could be particularly hazardous as experts report we may see hotter than normal weather across most of the country. The American Red Cross has steps you can take to help ensure your pet stays safe when the temperatures rise.
It’s critical that you don’t leave your pet in a hot vehicle, even for a few minutes. The inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows cracked open.
Keep your pets inside and out of the heat. Make sure your pets have access to cool, fresh water all day long.
HEAT STROKE Animals can suffer heat stroke 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 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
- 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 immediately as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and damage.
PLANT HAZARDS We’re more likely to leave the windows or doors open in warm weather, an invitation for pets to try to get outside. Be aware that some plants in your garden can be hazardous to animals. Visit the Animal Poison Control Center to find out which plants and flowers are poisonous to animals.
RESOURCES Download the Red Cross Pet First Aid app for step-by-step instructions for first aid emergencies, toxic substances, 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. You can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross, texting GETPET to 90999 for a link to download the app or going to redcross.org/apps.
You can also take the Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online course so that you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available. Access the course on your desktop or tablet and go through the content at your own pace. The interactive course includes:
- How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so owners can notice if there are any irregularities
- Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure; and information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.
Find more information about pets and their safety during warm weather here.