As record-high temperatures continue to plague much of the country, those without fur aren’t the only ones that need to worry about succumbing to heat-related illnesses.
While young children and people 65 and older are among those at higher risk of heat-related illness, dogs and cats can also suffer from the heat, especially since they can’t get themselves a drink of water or turn on a fan — unless they’re really talented.
While there are obvious ways people can prevent their pets from getting sick, there are some unknown things pet owners may not know about. Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Dr. Ashley Rossman, a veterinarian at Glen Oak Dog and Cat Hospital in Glenview, Illinois, spoke with, to discuss what pet owners should know for this hot summer.
Pets do overheat and get heatstroke
Rossman said she sees an increase of dogs suffering from heat during summer months, and some are life-threatening cases. However, Rossman and Kratt said signs pets may be experiencing heat-related illness include decreased activity and alertness, increased panting and excessive drooling.
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“If they see any of those, I would recommend that they contact their veterinarian,” Kratt said.
Certain breeds are more susceptible
People may want to be extra careful if they have pets like bulldogs, Akitas and huskies. Kratt suggests that long-haired dogs should be brushed to get rid of that winter coat. As for breeds like bulldogs, their scrunched-up faces mean short noses and respiratory issues.
“Those dogs are going to be much more susceptible to having heatstroke because they don’t have long nasal passages, so they’re going to pant more,” Rossman said.
She also said that dogs with thin hair can also get sunburned, and it’s not crazy to put sunscreen on them.
Dr. Millie Rosales of Miami Veterinary Dermatology told PetMD the best sunscreen to get for dogs is one that is specifically for them.
However if it’s not available, Dr. Richard Goldstein, chief medical officer of the Animal Medical Center in New York City, said sunscreen made for children and with an SPF of 15 or higher is good to use.
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Being aware of that hot pavement
If someone wishes to take their dog out for walks, they should remember that they can’t put on their own shoes, meaning their paws can burn due to the scorching pavement really fast.
“The darker the pavement, the more that the sun is going to heat it up,” Kratt said. He added a good way to see how bearable pavement is for pet parents to lay the back of their hands on it or just be sure the dogs are only walking on grass.
Even if it’s hot, some dogs won’t give away the pain they are feeling, as they may just be trying to be “good boys.”
“Your dog is going to do whatever it takes to please you,” Rossman said.
Don’t forget about the bugs
Bugs like fleas and ticks are known to thrive in warm climates, according to PetCareRx, meaning summertime can be their time to shine.
Rossman said that since ticks are more prevalent during the summer, pets are at more risk of developing tick-borne illnesses.
Taking your dog to the beach, lake or river may seem like the best idea to cool them down, but there are some risks to it. Some dogs may like the water, but since they aren’t the best swimmers, breeds like bulldogs should wear life jackets.
“They’re super cute, and they’re wonderful dogs, but they’re sinkers, not swimmers,” Rossman said.