No one living in the St. Louis area needs to be reminded that summer can be unbearable. The heat and humidity combine to form conditions so oppressive that it seems possible to sweat even in the shower. Those conditions aren’t just uncomfortable; they’re dangerous. But it’s easy to minimize the danger by taking it easy, staying indoors in air conditioning and drinking plenty of fluids.
It’s all common sense for people, but sometimes people forget to apply that same common sense to their beloved pets, who can suffer from the same heat-related issues that people do.
Pet safety in the heat starts with keeping plenty of cold water available for your friends at all times.
Among the greatest dangers for pets during the summer is being left unattended in a parked car. According to the Humane Society of Missouri, when the temperature outside reaches 70 degrees, the temperature inside a car can reach more than 100 degrees in only minutes, putting your pet in danger of dehydration, heatstroke or death. The simple solution? Leave Fido at home during the summer. And if you see a dog left unattended in a hot car, call 911.
Speaking of heatstroke, it’s important to know what to keep an eye out for when it comes to pets, especially dogs. Most humans know when they are getting overheated and will slow down their activity when they feel faint or overwhelmed. Our canine friends, however, will continue strenuous activity even if their health is in danger.
If your friend is wearing what looks like a happy, endearing, tongue-lolling grin when you’re out playing in the heat, he might be in danger of heatstroke. So, how do you know if your friend might but be suffering from heatstroke? He will pant like crazy, become exhausted or agitated, and start vomiting. At this point, you can cool him down by giving him ice cubes to lick. Avoid giving him cold water, as it will upset his stomach more and hasten dehydration. Sponge him down with a wet towel and let him lie in front of a fan.
In more extreme cases, his gums will take on a grayish tinge, his tongue will turn blue and he will lose consciousness. This requires immediate action. Immerse him in cold water or hose him down with a gently spray and direct the fan on him. Then call your veterinarian immediately..
Of course, your canine friend needs his exercise, but keep walks short, and preferably in the morning or early evening when the sun is not so unbearable. And as any veterinarian will tell you, cats should never be allowed outside, where heat is just one of the many dangers they face.
For more information about pet safety in the heat, visit the Humane Society of the United States website at www.hsus.org.