Soaring temperatures can lead to dangerous and life-threatening situations for the family dog or other pets, especially if the humidity in the air combines with a high temperature to increase the “Temperature-Humidity Index” or “Humidex Reading”. In humid air, perspiration does not evaporate as readily, making it difficult for people and animals to cool down efficiently. It does not take extremely high outdoor temperatures to produce heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion or heat cramps.
Heat stroke is a condition arising from extremely high body temperature (rectal temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius), which leads to nervous system abnormalities that may include lethargy, weakness, collapse or coma. The greatest risk for heat stroke in animals is similar to the risk in humans, and includes puppies and kittens, geriatric pets, pets who are overweight, pets who are excessively active (playing or working) in the heat of the day, breeds of dogs or cats with flattened faces (Persians, bulldogs, etc), dogs with heavy coats and pets who are ill or are on certain medications.
Leaving a pet in a car with closed windows on a hot summer day is probably the most common cause of heat stroke. However, taking your dog for a long walk in the heat of the day, or allowing dogs to romp and play with their canine buddies at the leash free park during extreme temperatures can also lead to heat related problems. In these circumstances, it may only take a few minutes for your pet’s body temperature to rise into the critical range.
There are a few simple things you can do to minimize the risk of heat related injury to your pet. They include:
- have long-haired dogs professionally groomed in the early summer so that they have less of an insulating hair coat (there is some debate about whether or not to “shave” some long or thick coated breeds – but all dogs will benefit from a good grooming that removes matts and dense undercoat whether or not the hair is clipped short)
- avoid taking your dog outdoors during the heat of midday
- if you have the space, keep a small ‘doggy pool’ outside where your pet can cool off (make sure you empty the pool when not in use, and keep small children away)
- limit exercise time and take walks in the early morning or late evening
- NEVER leave your dog in the car – the inside temperature of a car can reach 120 F or 48 C in minutes.
And don’t forget, pets can become sunburned too! This is particularly problematic in white or light-coated animals, and the most sensitive areas are the nose, eyelids and ears.
Original article – Life Learn post Sept 2011