By Nikki Senecal
We adopted Stella from the Animal Coalition of Delaware County in late June last year. One day in August, on our regular morning walk, she lay down and simply refused to get up. It was hot, but it didn’t occur to me that my little black dog was even hotter! We cut our 45-minute walks down to 30 when the temperature was over 80 degrees per the vet’s recommendation. (Black animals are particularly susceptible to heat.) Symptoms of overheating in pets include:
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- A deep red or purple tongue
- White gums
- Increased heart and respiratory rate
- Mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse.
They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with a temperature over 104 degrees. Animals exhibiting these symptoms should see a vet as soon as possible. Fortunately for us, Stella knows how to let us know she’s too hot.
When the temperature rises, Stella gets ice cubes in her water. (Though there have been reports of bloat being associated with ice cubes, there seems to be no firm documentation. Know the signs of bloat and know your dog!) Ice cubes in a cat’s bowl may help interest them in drinking. Sometimes cats will stop drinking when they need to most.
Neither domestic rabbits nor guinea pigs tolerate extreme temperatures well. They should be kept indoors.
Other recommendations for the warmer weather:
- Make sure pets have access to shade if they are outside.
- Keep pets indoors if the temperature soars.
- Beware of high-rise syndrome (pets falling through open windows). Make sure screens are fastened and unscreened windows are closed.
- Don’t walk your pet on hot asphalt which can raise their body temperatures and burn paw pads.
- Brush your cats more frequently in hot weather to keep them cool.
And of course, never leave your pets in the car on warm days. Even at 70 degrees, your car can become as hot as an oven in as little as thirty minutes.