Hot weather is hard on pets

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Humans aren't the only ones at risk from the heat. The Humane Society of the United States web site offers these tips for keeping your pet safe as well:

n Never leave your pet in the car: During warm weather, the inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you're parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for animals left in the car.

Dogs and cats can't perspire and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. Pets who are left in hot cars even briefly can suffer from heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage, and the problems can be fatal.

To avoid the problem, leave your pet at home whenever possible. If you see a pet in a car alone, notify the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, contact the authorities.

* Don't give your pet unsupervised access to your pool. It can be dangerous. Instead, make sure your pet has shade and plenty of water.

n Pets need exercise even when it is hot, but extra care needs to be taken with older dogs, short-nosed dogs, and those with thick coats. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws.

* Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.

* Your pet can suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke: These conditions are very serious and could cause your pet to die. Signs of heat stress in pets can include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.

* If your pet does become overheated: You need to immediately lower his body temperature. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water over his body to gradually lower his core body temperature. Apply cold towels or ice packs to your pet's head, neck, and chest only. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Most importantly, get him to a veterinarian immediately.

The Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross will hold a pet first aid class July 17 in Murfreesboro. For more information, call (615) 893-4272 or go to midtnredcross.org.