by Michelle Mantor

Oh, the dog days of summer. Hot temperatures make for hot dogs…so know what do, what not to do, and what telltale signs to look for in understanding if your is pet ready for a meltdown!

  1. Exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening hours. The intense summer heat from 10am to 6pm is too hot for any activity that increases the heart rate. 
  2. Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.
  3. Never leave your pet in a parked car. Even cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke during hot summer days.
  4. If your dog or cat is out during the day, remember that asphalt and concrete can get very hot and burn the pads of their feet. Always have shelter available to protect them from extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Be aware that older and overweight pets, as well as flat-faced breeds such as Persian cats, Pugs and Bulldogs, are more likely to overheat in hot weather.
  5. Provide your pet with fresh, cool water every day in a tip-proof bowl.
  6. Keep your pet well groomed, but resist the temptation to shave off all of his hair in an effort to keep him cool.  Your pet’s coat will protect him from getting sunburned.  A matted coat traps in the heat, attracts parasites and can cause skin sores.
  7. Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open vehicle, such as a pick-up truck (other than the heat factor and the bed of the truck being hot on their pads, safety is also a concern). 

Signs of Heat Stroke:

  • Heavy panting, hyperventilation (deep breathing)
  • Increased salivation early then dry gums as the heat prostration progresses
  • Weakness, confusion or inattention, vomiting or diarrhea and sometimes bleeding. 

As the condition progresses towards heat stroke, there may be obvious paleness or graying to the gums, shallowing of the breathing efforts and eventually slowed or absent breathing efforts, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody and finally seizures or coma.

What To Do:

If your pet experiences these serious signs of heat stroke:

1. cool them with cool or tepid water rather than really cold water. 2. If ice packs are available they can be applied to areas where circulation is very good, such as the “armpits” or neck. 

3. As soon as you see signs of regaining some comfort, go to your veterinarian. Dogs who suffer from heat stroke can develop delayed complications including death if they are not properly monitored.

For The Birds:

If you have a bird living outdoors in an aviary, hot weather can play a factor in their well being also. Food left outdoors can spoil and water can grow bacteria. Feed early in the morning then remove the food after a few hours and change water twice a day.

Curious About Cats? Cats are a unique domesticated animal. They can “climb” their way out of fenced areas, find shade and water, etc. We contacted a veterinarian that said he had never seen one case of heat stroke in a cat in 30 years of practice. Felines are great survivalists…but this doesn’t mean they should be neglected or made to find fresh water!

For The Curios: What exactly is “dog days of summer”?

The phrase “dog days of summer” actually comes from “heavens”. The brightest of stars in Canis Major (the big dog) is Sirius, which also happens to be the brightest star in the night sky. 

In the summer, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time “dog days” after the dog star.