Just as pets need special considerations in the winter, so too do they need a little extra attention when the weather turns warm. For one thing, applying sunscreen to dogs and cats with exposed skin is a great idea. For another, it's important to make sure that toxic plants growing in warmer temperatures don't end up on the menu. And, just like us humans, pets can get uncomfortable from the heat, and even suffer from heat stroke or dehydration.
Can my pet get sick from the heat?
Yes, your pet can get sick from the heat. Consider this: Your pet probably has a body covered in fur...which is great when it gets a little chilly. (You put on a sweater and your pet simply enjoys his or her inherent thermoboost.) However, you can take off layers of clothing, while your pet cannot (normal shedding aside). Ergo, dogs and cats run the risk of overheating.
Additionally, even though pets don't sweat to the level we do, they do in fact sweat through their paws when hot. Coupled with drooling, pets easily fall victim to dehydration during the summer. This can make them dizzy, sleepy and even unresponsive.
What are some signs that a dog has overheated? A cat?
The first sign your dog is overheating is heavy panting. The same symptom goes for cats. Our pets don't verbally complain to us, but they do show us the early warning signs of heat exhaustion through panting, drooling, lethargy and confusion. Signs that a pet has overheated to the point of heatstroke include vomiting, diarrhea and passing out.
What is a high temperature for a dog? A cat?
Dogs are typically able to function comfortably in temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you should check with your vet to make sure that your specific breed of dog doesn't have special heat restrictions. As for cats, a roaming outdoor cat is likely also safe when temperatures are up to, and even into, the 90s - though it's important to bring all pets indoors whenever there is a heat advisory.
How can I keep my pet from getting overheated?
Most pets are pretty in tune with their own bodies. They seek out water and shade when they need relief from the heat. But, as a responsible pet owner, it's up to you to monitor their well-being during the summer heat. Here are some tips to help you keep your pets cool:
Keep indoor temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Make sure pets have access to plenty of water (they'll drink it faster and it will evaporate when it's hot, so refill their bowls frequently)
Cool overheated pets by bringing them to a cool place, allowing them to lie on a wet towel, providing them with access to fresh, cool drinking water, and even applying ice to their paws (if they tolerate this)
Never leave your pet unattended in a place where there is no refuge from the heat (such as a backyard without water or shade)
One more thing...
When pets overheat, they will do whatever they can to find relief...and that might even mean wandering. It's very important you pay close attention to your outdoor pets during the summer in order to avoid a lost dog or lost cat scenario. After all: Just because they're sweaty/stinky/panting/drooling messes, doesn't mean you don't love them!
If you lose a pet in North Jersey, we can help. Report your lost or missing pet right away!