Heat Can Affect Pets Differently From Humans

Pet owners need to be aware of the signs of distress.

Frederick, Md. (KM) – Our pets deal with the hot weather in other ways, and we need to keep that in mind. “We have sweat glands all over our bodies that help us sweat to release heat. But animals don’t have that. So they’re primary methods of releasing heat  are through the sweat glands on the pads of their feet, or through panting,” says Bethany Davidson, Humane Educator for Frederick County Animal Control.

She says if you see you pets panting excessively, or are acting confused, or have excessive thirst, or are vomiting, it’s time to take action. “You don’t want to cool them down too quickly. A lot of people want to pour freezing cold water on them. You don’t want to do that. That could cause other issues,”: says Davidson. “So just nice cool water; wiping them down with a wet washcloth; allowing them to drink cool water or lick ice cubes; getting them inside; you can use a fan.” Along with that, Davidson says get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

It’s usually a good idea to keep you dogs and cats inside when it’s hot outside, but Davidson says they still need to get outside for exercise. If you’re taking your dog for a walk, she says avoid walking on a hot sidewalk. Instead, let them walk on the grass. “Concrete, asphalt, just rock, cobblestones, all of those things can get very hot and quickly burn the sensitive skin on the paws of our pets,” she says. “So a good rule of thumb is if you can’t put your hand on the pavement and leave it there without it feeling like it’s going to get burnt, than it’s too hot for your pets to walk on.”

Davidson also says it’s best to take your dogs and cats outside in the early morning or evening when it’s a little cooler.

There are dogs and cats which have thick fur. Davidson says don’t completely shave these animals as a way to help them cool down. She says the fur helps the dogs and cats regulate heat experienced by their bodies and keeps them from getting sunburned.

While animals as well as humans can be affected by the heat, Davidson says there are some dogs that are more susceptible to heat than others. “Animal with the shorter muzzles–what people would smush-face–tend to overheat more quickly,” she said. “Those are things like your Boston Terriers, or French Bulldogs, your Bulldogs, your Boxers.”

Animal Control officials always say don’t leave a dog in a hot car. If you have to go out on an errand, leave your dogs home in a air-conditioned spot with plenty of water.

By Kevin McManus