How to Tell if It's Too Hot Outside for Your Pet: A Guide from Onalaska Animal Hospital

As pet owners, it's our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our furry companions, especially when it comes to hot weather.

Dogs and cats are susceptible to heat-related illnesses, and it's crucial to recognize the signs of overheating and take necessary precautions.

In this article, we will guide you through how to tell if it's too hot outside for your pet, along with essential tips to keep them cool and safe during the scorching summer months.

Recognizing Signs of Overheating

  1. Excessive panting and drooling: Dogs and cats regulate their body temperature by panting and sweating through their paws. If you notice your pet panting heavily or excessively drooling, it may indicate they’re struggling to cool down.
  2. Lethargy and weakness: Heat exhaustion can cause pets to become lethargic, weak, or even collapse. If your pet appears unusually tired or unable to stand or walk properly, it's a clear sign that they're experiencing heat-related distress.
  3. Rapid heartbeat and heavy breathing: Increased heart rate and rapid, shallow breathing are warning signs of heat stress. Monitor your pet's breathing and check for an elevated pulse, which you can feel by placing your hand on their chest.
  4. Bright red gums and tongue: Heat can lead to blood vessel dilation, resulting in red gums and tongue. If your pet's oral tissues appear excessively red or even purplish, it indicates a potential heat-related issue.
  5. Vomiting and diarrhea: Heatstroke can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms, along with dehydration, indicate a critical condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Tips to Keep Your Pet Cool

  1. Provide ample fresh water: Make sure your pet always has access to clean, fresh water, both indoors and outdoors. Consider adding ice cubes to their water bowl to keep it cool for longer periods.
  2. Create a cool environment: Ensure your pet has access to shaded areas in your yard and provide them with a cool, well-ventilated indoor space. Use fans or air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  3. Avoid midday heat: Schedule walks and outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, when temperatures are lower. Hot pavement can burn your pet's paw pads, so check it with your hand before heading out.
  4. Use cooling accessories: Utilize cooling mats, bandanas, or vests specially designed for pets to help lower their body temperature. Wet towels or misting them with cool water can also provide relief from the heat.
  5. Never leave pets in vehicles: It cannot be stressed enough—never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a vehicle can skyrocket within minutes, putting your pet's life at risk.
  6. Exercise with caution: Adjust the intensity and duration of outdoor activities according to the weather. Overexertion in hot weather can lead to heat exhaustion, so take frequent breaks and allow your pet to rest in the shade.
Is it too hot for your dog's paws?

The Bottom Line

Keeping our pets safe and comfortable during hot weather is paramount. By being vigilant and attentive to the signs of overheating, we can protect them from heat-related illnesses.

Follow the guidelines provided by Onalaska Animal Hospital to ensure your pet stays cool and hydrated, creating an enjoyable summer for both of you. Remember, if you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke or any heat-related condition, seek veterinary assistance immediately for prompt treatment and care.

For more information on pet care during hot weather or to schedule an appointment with our experienced veterinarians, visit our website.

Our dedicated team at Onalaska Animal Hospital is here to provide expert guidance and support for all your pet's needs, helping them stay healthy and happy year-round.