Keeping pets safe during extreme heat - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Keeping pets safe during extreme heat

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Summer is upon us, and the scorching heat that comes along with it can be uncomfortable, not only for you, but also for your beloved pets. 

When intense heat is paired with power outages caused by storms, the outcome can be tragic. The Humane Society offers some tips you can use for helping everyone in your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on, and even if the power is not.

  • Never leave your pets in a parked car: Not even for a minute. Not even when the car is running and the air is on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rapidly rise to dangerous levels. With windows slightly cracked, temperatures inside a car can go up more than 15 degrees in only 10 minutes.
  • Watch the humidity: It is not just the ambient temperatures that can affect your pet, but also the humidity. When animals pant, it takes heat away from their bodies. Therefore, if the humidity is too high, they cannot cool themselves, and their temperatures will skyrocket very quickly.
  • Limit exercise on hot days: You should adjust the intensity and duration of the exercise you do with your pet according to the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Be extra cautious with pets with white-colored ears, which are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, which typically have difficulty breathing. Also, walk your pet in the grass if possible, as asphalt gets extremely hot and can burn your pet's paws. Always carry water for your pet, to prevent dehydration.
  • Don't rely on a fan: Pets do not respond to heat in the same way that humans do. Dogs sweat primarily through their feet, and fans do not cool pets as effectively as they cool people.
  • Provide ample shade and water: Make sure your pet has protection from heat and sun any time it is outside. Also, make sure it has access to plenty of fresh, cold water. During heat waves, add ice to the water. Tarps and tree shades are ideal, because they do not obstruct air flow. Dog houses do not provide relief from the heat; they make it worse.
  • Cool your pet inside and out: You can make treats for your pet, like a batch of quick and easy DIY popsicles for dogs. Always provide water, whether your pet is inside or outside. To keep your pet from overheating indoors or outdoors, use a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat. Soak these products in cool water, and they will stay cool for up to three days. If your dog is not stressed out by bath-time, try a cooling soak.
  • Watch for signs of heatstroke: Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
  • How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke: Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck, and chest, or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take it directly to a vet.
  • Prepare for power outages: Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.
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