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June 29, 2012

Heat and humidity can be deadly for pets, too

As much of the country experiences abnormally high temperatures, be sure to protect your animal companions. Heat stroke can be fatal for pets, and every summer there are stories of tragic mistakes made by loving pet owners who have underestimated the heat.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat watch advisories about the potentially dangerous combination of heat and humidity that’s gripping the middle Atlantic region including the Washington, D.C., area and North Carolina.

“This extreme heat and humidity can pose health risks for people, but it’s also a dangerous time for our pets,” said Laura Bevan, Eastern regional director for The Humane Society of the United States.

Hot weather tips

Never leave your pets in a parked car. Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, contact the nearest animal shelter or police. Spread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars by printing out our Hot Car flyer (PDF) to post in public places and share with your friends, family, and coworkers.

Make frozen peanut-butter popsicles for your dog »

Shade and water are a must. Anytime your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold 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.

Limit exercise on hot days. Take care when exercising your pet.  Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets who, because of their short noses, typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Print our Hot Car flyer and spread the word about the dangers of leaving pets in cars in hot weather »

Recognize the signs of heatstroke. In case of an emergency, it’s important to be able to identify the symptoms of heat stress caused by exposure to extreme temperatures. When in doubt, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some signs of heatstroke are: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness.

If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, act quickly! Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Cool stuff for your pet

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with the Keep Cool Mat, body wrap, or vest. Soak in cool water and they’ll stay dry but cool for up to three days. Find these, along with shade-giving and hydrating products to keep dogs safe and cool, at Humane Domain.

Freeze up some treats for your canine friends. Help your dog chill out with these quick and easy DIY popsicles, made from peanut butter or another favorite food.

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Article source: HSUS

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