Heat Awareness


It may not be summer quite yet, but some days are starting to feel like it. Lawndale Veterinary Hospital wants all pet owners to remember that it’s never a good idea to leave your pet in a parked car – especially on warm and hot days. Carmen, one of our fantastic technical team members, recently made a video to illustrate just how quickly the temperature can rise in a parked car (even in the shade!). Check it out:

In addition to never leaving your pet in a parked car, there are also some other key considerations for keeping all pets safe in the warmer weather. Pets should always have access to fresh, clean water. For outdoor pets, they need to have cooler options in the shade, but when it gets too hot outside, it may be best to bring them indoors into the air conditioning. Pets who enjoy swimming can cool down in supervised water activities. Not all pets are great swimmers though, so be mindful of whether additional help from flotation devices might be needed. If pets are swimming in a pool, they should not be allowed to drink the water, and rinsing them off after swimming will help remove chemicals that may irritate or dry out their skin. For dogs swimming in streams, lakes, or ponds, be sure they are current on their leptospirosis vaccine as the water could be a source of infection of this zoonotic disease.

When it comes to exercise in the warmer months, pick the cooler morning or evening hours for outdoor activities. Remember that hot surfaces like asphalt can contribute to pets overheating, and the hot surface can also burn the paw pads. Do not allow your pets to over-exert themselves in the heat as this can also lead to overheating. Certain breeds of dogs and cats, or pets with certain medical conditions, may be more likely to overheat. Pets who are older, overweight, have heart or lung disease, or are a breed with a flat face (e.g., Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Persian Cats) should be kept indoors in the air conditioning as much as possible.

Pets who get too hot can develop heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs once the body’s natural cooling mechanisms are unable to bring down the temperature in an animal that has become overheated. Animals experiencing heat stroke may display restlessness, panting, drooling, elevated heart rate, and of course, elevated body temperature. This high body temperature will begin to impact the entire body and the animal may begin vomiting, passing bloody diarrhea, have trouble breathing, develop seizures, experience acute kidney failure, or develop clotting abnormalities. The condition can be fatal and it is a medical emergency.

So remember, be proactive about keeping your pets cool and comfortable as the temperature rises. And never leave your pet in a vehicle unattended!

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS

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