While waves of record-breaking heat have swept over us the past few weeks, we must remember that we are not the only ones who suffer because of it. Our four-legged friends, most of whom wear fur coats, are also susceptible to the effects of severe heat. Aside from the discomfort related to soaring temperatures, animals (especially dogs) can suffer heat stroke very quickly. In fact, many unfortunate pets die as a result of heat stroke! As in dealing with most health issues, prevention is key.
If at all possible, keep pets indoors in the air-conditioning. If your pets must stay outdoors, make sure that they have access to shade and fresh, clean water. TIP: Freeze a bottle of water and put it in a plastic bowl (metal heats up) of water to keep things nice and cool. If you must take your pet along for the ride, NEVER leave him/her in a parked car unless it is running with the air conditioner on! Temperatures can reach deadly levels in a matter of minutes and animals who are exposed to them suffer greatly and often die.
So, what action should you take if you suspect your pet is overheated? Remember prevention? Don't take your dog for a walk or jog in the heat! (It's not good for you, either.) Exercise in the early morning and take along some water. You can get a collapsible water dish that is very handy in these situations. It is normal for dogs to pant as this is the way they cool off but there is a difference in panting and respiratory distress. If your dog appears stressed, move him/her to some shade immediately. You can use cool water (no ice) applied to the ears, arm pits, and groin area to bring down body temperature. This is a medical emergency so you must get your pet to a veterinarian immediately!
Summer time can be a great time for all of us if we exercise caution and take PREcautions to keep our cool. :)