The combination of high temperature, high humidity, and poor ventilation can be fatal to dogs and cats. These animals do not sweat as people do. Thus, the cooling benefits of water evaporation from the skin are not available to them.. Panting and radiation of heat from the skin surface are their main means of controlling body temperature. If the air temperature and humidity are high and air circulation is reduced, these protective mechanisms are inadequate.
Body temperature can then increase dramatically, resulting in collapse and severe shock. Animals not treated promptly may die or brain damage may result.
Dogs with short “pushed-in” noses, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boxers, are especially susceptible to heat stroke since their restricted breathing doesn’t allow enough air exchange for rapid heat loss.
Pets should never be left alone in a closed car, especially during the hot summer months. Even if the window is left open a small amount, within minutes the temperature inside the car can reach over 120 degrees. The pet’s body temperature can easily go up to 106-107 degrees under these conditions and brain damage is often the result.
Jogging with your dog during the hot summer months should also proceed with caution. Just as you undergo a training program and work gradually up to speed, so should your dog. Start slowly for a few minutes each day and work up. Continual exercise in the sun without access to water can easily cause heat exhaustion in your pet.
Overweight or geriatric pets are especially prone to heat exhaustion or exercise intolerance. These pets should be checked over thoroughly by a veterinarian before starting a demanding exercise program such as jogging.
If you must leave your pet outside during hot, humid weather, be sure to provide adequate ventilation, protection from the sun, and cool fresh water. Limit your pet’s exercise during the hottest parts of the day, and never leave your pet in a closed car. This is an invitation to tragedy.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a dazed or frantic appearance, rapid breathing, weakness, thick, ropy saliva, and bright red mucous membranes. Quick treatment to lower the body temperature is indicated which includes immersing the entire body in cold water, or even a cold water enema in a life-threatening situation. Any pet with heat stroke or heat exhaustion should be rushed to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Going to the beach with your dog can also be a great experience. Bring along fresh water and offer it often. Don’t let your pet drink too much salt water; this can cause vomiting and diarrhea which may lead to dehydration. Limit the amount of time during the hottest parts of the day (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), or provide periods of time in the shade. Also, be a good neighbor: pick up all “little presents” your dog leaves. Along Jupiter Beach there are usually doggie bag
stations to grab a bag to pick up the waste. And don’t forget that light pigmented dogs can sunburn too!
Summer can be a fun time with your pet as long as some simple precautions are taken.