If possible, walk your pet on the grass to prevent hot surfaces from burning their legs. If your pet is outside, make sure it has access to shade and plenty of cold water. Whenever your pet is outside, make sure that it is protected from heat and sun and that it has plenty of cool, cool water. In case of heat waves, add ice to the water when possible.
Shade from trees and tarps are ideal because they don't obstruct airflow. A doghouse doesn't relieve the heat, in fact, it makes it worse. If your pet shows signs of heatstroke, bring it inside and give it cold water, not cold. Take their rectal temperature and, if it's above 102.2 degrees, cover them with towels soaked in warm water.
Do not place them in cold water or put cold water on them, as this can cause dangerous changes in blood pressure. You can also rub their feet with isopropyl alcohol. After these steps, your pet's temperature should start to drop. If you use sunscreen or insect repellent for pets, use products that are specifically made for use on animals.
On very hot days, limit exercise to the early hours of the morning or night, and be especially careful with white-eared pets, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and for short-nosed pets, who tend to have trouble breathing. In the United Kingdom, where temperatures reached an all-time high on Tuesday, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association recommend taking the following steps to ensure that your dog, cat or other pet is safe in hot weather. While it may be tempting to shave your furry pet in summer to help it stay cool, don't, says José Arce, veterinarian and president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Signs that your pet may be suffering from exposure to heat include lethargy, excessive panting (or any other panting in rabbits), rapid breathing, tremors, drooling, excessive restlessness, and prolonged lack of appetite.
Your pet could suffer irreversible organ damage or death from continued exposure to these temperatures. Pets that have a flat face or a short snout, such as pugs and Persian cats, are overweight, elderly, or have heart and lung diseases are more susceptible to heat stroke. Pets with heart problems and overweight pets, very young or very old, may be equally vulnerable, he says. Although it's not so obvious, rising temperatures and extreme weather events caused by climate change also affect the animals closest to us.
During heat waves, Arce recommends keeping pets indoors and away from windows, and walking dogs early in the morning or later at night, when the temperature of the air and pavement has cooled. Individual vets are well placed to advise pet owners, Hodges says, but at the industrial level, “I don't think there's been a concerted effort to focus on climate change and its impact on pets. If you suspect heatstroke or any other heat-related condition, take your pet to a cool, well-ventilated place. Before a summer storm runs out of power in your home, make a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related problems.
With rising temperatures and extreme and more frequent weather events, he says, educating people about the risks to their pets is more vital than ever.