4 Pet Heat Hazards

Summer is all about fun in the sun, and many people want to include their four-legged family member. However, rising temperatures and scorching sun rays can be dangerous for pets. Our Animal Hospital of Parkland team doesn’t want a veterinary emergency to interrupt your summer, so we explain heat hazards that can affect pets during warmer weather and provide tips that will help keep them safe. 

Heatstroke is a pet heat hazard

Pets cool themselves mainly by panting. As air circulates over their tongue and mucous membranes, moisture evaporates and creates a cooling effect. However, when conditions are hot or your pet is overexerted, panting may not adequately cool your pet. All pets are susceptible to heatstroke, but some, including brachycephalic breeds (e.g., pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and Himalayan cats) have a compressed facial structure that makes them ineffective panters, increasing their risk. Other pets at increased risk for overheating include senior pets, who cannot regulate their temperature well, overweight pets, whose extra insulating fat layer makes effective cooling difficult, and pets who have a heart or respiratory related medical condition.

Heatstroke is considered a veterinary emergency, because the condition impacts systems throughout the pet’s body. In addition, prolonged elevated body temperatures can trigger disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), which causes bodywide clotting irregularities. Tips to protect your four-legged friend from heatstroke include:

  • Seeking shade — When outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade to let your pet cool down.
  • Hydrating your pet — Ensure your pet stays well-hydrated, since dehydration increases their heatstroke risk.
  • Exercising safely — Avoid strenuous activity on hot days, and take your pet out during the early morning and evening hours when temperatures are usually cooler.
  • Leaving your pet at home — Never leave your pet in a parked car, because temperatures can skyrocket quickly and create a dangerous environment for your furry pal. And, parking in the shade or leaving the window cracked isn’t enough to keep your pet safe. Leave your pet in your air-conditioned home if they cannot accompany you on your errands. 
  • Avoiding tethering your pet — Never leave your tethered pet unattended, because they can easily tangle the tether, trapping themselves without water in direct sunlight.
  • Monitoring your pet — Monitor your pet closely for heatstroke signs, such as lethargy, excessive panting or drooling, and red mucous membranes. As their condition progresses, other signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, collapse, and seizures.

Dehydration is a pet heat hazard

Water is essential to keep your pet hydrated and healthy. Dehydration not only increases your pet’s heatstroke risk but also can lead to kidney disease, mental dullness, and low blood pressure. Pets typically need more water in the summer because their panting increases fluid loss. Dehydration signs include decreased appetite, reduced energy levels, panting, thick, ropey saliva followed by dry, sticky gums, decreased skin elasticity, and a dry nose. Tips to protect your pet from dehydration include:

  • Providing water — Ensure your pet has several water sources throughout your home so drinking is easy and convenient.
  • Cleaning the bowls —Clean the water bowls daily to ensure your pet’s water is palatable and not contaminated by bacteria.
  • Packing water — Pack water and a portable water bowl for your pet on outings and offer frequent drinks.
  • Investing in a water fountain — If your pet is enchanted by running water, they may drink more if you provide a water fountain. 
  • Offering icy treats — Freezing your pet’s favorite treat in ice cubes is a fun way to help them ingest more water. 

Sunburn is a pet heat hazard

When UV indexes are high, your pet is at increased risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Pets who are especially susceptible include those with only a little pigment in their skin or coat, or a thin coat, and those who are naturally hairless or who have lost hair because of a medical condition. Tips to protect your pet from the sun’s damaging rays include:

  • Finding the shade — On outings, choose shady routes and keep your pet out of direct sunlight.
  • Using sunscreen — Find a pet-friendly sunscreen product that does not contain zinc oxide or para aminobenzoic acid (PABA), since these ingredients are toxic to pets. Apply the sunscreen to your pet’s unhaired and thin-coated areas, and prevent them from licking for about 10 minutes after application, so the product is absorbed. Ensure you reapply the sunscreen every four to six hours and after your pet gets wet.
  • Using sun protective gear — Sun protective clothing that helps protect your pet from the scorching sun is available.

Pavement burn is a pet heat hazard

In direct sunlight, pavement and asphalt can reach temperatures that can burn your pet’s sensitive paws. Walking on hot pavement can cause blisters on your pet’s paw pads, which can rupture, causing a raw, sensitive area. Paw pad burns can quickly become infected, since they are easily contaminated when your pet walks. Tips to protect your furry pal from pavement burn include:

  • Finding a shady route — Choose a shady route when walking your pet.
  • Avoiding pavement — When possible, walk your four-legged friend on grassy or sandy paths. 
  • Testing the pavement — Test the pavement with your hand. If you can’t maintain contact for 10 seconds, the pavement is too hot for your pet’s feet.
  • Using pet booties — If you can’t avoid hot pavement, protect your pet’s paws with pet booties. 

Protecting your pet from these pet heat hazards should help ensure a fun and enjoyable summer. However, if your pet encounters a pet heat hazard, contact our Animal Hospital of Parkland team, so we can ensure they receive the care they need as soon as possible.4 Pet Heat Hazards

By |2024-02-14T23:50:23+00:00July 17th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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