While Texas is under a heat advisory, residents are not the only ones who should limit their exposure to the intense heat. Pet owners should also limit their pet’s outside time as much as possible to prevent illness – and even fatal accidents.
Just like humans, pets can experience heat stroke, and it can be deadly. While we are taught to recognize the symptoms in people, heat stroke symptoms often go unnoticed in pets until it is too late. “Dogs do not sweat through their skin. They control their body heat by panting and through their feet, so, after a certain point, they simply can’t relieve their rising body temperatures during prolonged exposure to 100+ degree weather,” Animal Services Director Danielle Tate said. Brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke. Further, Tate added, “many dogs will refuse to slow down despite feeling ill. It is therefore critical that we be on the lookout for signs that something is wrong.”
If your pet is outside or in a hot area, look for these signs that he is overheating:
- Excessive panting,
- Dark or bright red tongue and/or gums,
- Vomiting or diarrhea, or
- Rapid heartbeat.
If you think your pet is overheating, immediately:
- Put your pet in a shaded area and get your pet out of the heat,
- Put wet clothes on your pet's paws and around his head,
- Provide cool water (not ice water) to your pet, and
- Contact your veterinarian.
If you must leave your pet outside for an extended period of time, be sure to “provide adequate shade, a bath of water – like a kiddy pool – in the shade, and plenty of drinking water. Make sure the water bowl is large and in the shade, or the water will evaporate or become too hot for the dog to drink,” Tate advises. Preventable heat stroke has led to the death of five animals in Grand Prairie in the past two weeks.
More heat advice for pet owners:
- Do not tether your dog in a yard – it is against city codes and is a citable offense.
- Do not shave furry dogs as it exposes their delicate skin to sunburn. You can trim longhaired dogs’ fur to about one-inch to help with heat.
- Never leave an animal in a car where temperatures can soar in minutes, causing death.
Visit gptx.org/paws or call 972-237-8575 for more tips on protecting your pet from the Texas heat.