August 2004

Keeping pets safe in summer heat

Posted Monday, August 9, 2004 by cvhs

Heatstroke can have deadly consequences. The best way to keep your pet safe during the hot summer months is to avoid circumstances that can lead to heatstroke. The following information from Cocheco Valley Humane Society and the 2004 Veterinary Learning Systems can help you recognize the signs. If you suspect your petís condition is compromised due to the heat, taking immediate, yet careful steps to cool his or her body temperature could save your petís life.

Prevention is the best way to avoid heatstroke in your pet. Exercise your pet in the early morning or late evening. Avoid mid-day activities. And never leave your pet in a vehicle ó even for a few minutes.

All pets are prone to heatstroke, but flat-faced breeds of dogs including Pugs, Boxers, Lhasa Apsos, Shih-Tzus, Boston Terriers, Pekingese and Persian cats can be more susceptible to it. Young puppies and kittens, older pets and overweight pets are also prone to it and should be monitored daily. Rabbits and small animals will not pant, but will quiver, and can die very quickly from heatstroke.

The signs that a pet is suffering from heatstroke are bright red or pale gray, tacky gums; sticky drool; rapid panting or quivering; weakness; lack of coordination; vomiting; diarrhea; rapid heart rate; collapse; shock, or seizures. If your pet has any or some of these symptoms, he or she could be suffering from heatstroke.

Try cooling the animal by submersing him in cool, not cold, water, or placing cool, wet towels on the abdomen and groin area. Do not use extremely cold water or ice, as these will hinder the cooling process of your petís body. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

Pay special attention to any pets that are kept outdoors, including rabbits. Place a frozen water bottle in your rabbitsí housing. If there is a breeze, make sure it is not blocked by a structure, so that your pet may benefit from it. Make sure outdoor pets have access to cool shelter and shade and are away from asphalt. Plenty of cool water should be available at all times and offered several times a day. Bring rabbits inside the home to a cool, roomy rabbit-safe area and out of direct sunlight hot, humid days. (See for information on making an area of the home rabbit-safe.)

Reptiles and birds kept as pets also need a place to escape the sun, and need fresh bathing water and a separate drinking container. Be sure to provide them adequate shade in their housing by pulling shades or drapes if needed.

Consider a wading pool for dogs kept outdoors. The water can be kept cool by filling a water jug or plastic soda bottle with water, freezing it and floating it in the pool. Make sure the water in the pool is not too deep for the size of the dog.

Before going out, apply SPF 15 sunscreen on tender areas on dogs with light pigment or thin hair. Avoid zinc-based products, as pets may lick it off and ingest it. Always take notice of the heat coming off the street, sidewalk and sand as it can cause second-degree burns on your petís feet.

Encourage liquid and calorie intake by mixing one jar of meat baby food with one jar of water. Freeze into ice cube treats for your pet dog or cat to lick. Keep an eye on pets when giving an ice treat.

For information call or visit your petís veterinarian or log on to

Cocheco Valley Humane Society

262 County Farm Road, Dover, NH
(603) 749-5322

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