Vets urge pet owners to keep close eye on pets during heat wave

Published 10:33 am Wednesday, June 22, 2022

This summer is shaping up to be a scorcher, with temperatures expected to climb over 100 degrees this week. While people need to be mindful of keeping cool and hydrated, that goes just as much for their pets, especially dogs, who are just as vulnerable to heat stroke and other ailments. Dr. Sharon Moroz and Dr. Stephanie Kubik with Bryan-Hight Veterinary Hospital provided some suggestions on how to keep your four-legged friends cool and healthy during the hot weeks ahead.

“It’s best not to take your dog for rides in the car in the summer,” Dr. Moroz said. “If they sit in the car for even three or four minutes, it can get up to 120, 130 degrees in that car, and they’ll be in bad shape.” Moroz also recommended common-sense basics for outdoor dogs (access to shade and fresh, cool water), as well as electrolyte solutions for dogs. “There are electrolyte solutions that you can buy, that you can mix with the water, kind of the same as the Gatorade powder you mix with water… that, you can buy at most pet stores,” she explained.

Another issue pets face in such high temperatures is the risk of burning their toes on baking hot concrete or gravel. “I actually have seen that before,” Dr. Kubik said. “You don’t realize because your shoes are on the ground, but if you touch your hand down there and it’s hot, it’s just as hot to the bottom of their feet.” Moroz recommended walking pets only on grass, and Kubik cautioned that, even in the evening, concrete can still hold a lot of heat for quite a while.

Dogs are just as vulnerable to heat strokes as humans, and pet owners should be aware of the symptoms; according to Dr. Kubik, these include excessive panting, sudden lethargy, and stumbling or staggering. For treating heat stroke, she said, “You can cool the dog using cold water. Not ice water, you don’t want to bring its body temperature down too dramatically. Provide fresh water at that time with the electrolytes if you have them.” Another tip for keeping their paws cool, according to Dr. Moroz, is to apply alcohol between the toe pads, as it helps lower the body temperature. However, if a dog has collapsed from heat stroke, both recommended taking the pet to a veterinarian immediately.

“If you’re hot, they’re hot,” Kubik said. “Make sure you care about them just as much as you take care of yourself.”