Behind the Forecast: Protecting pets in the summer heat

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Science Behind the Forecast: Protecting pets in the summer heat (5/31)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - It's almost summer that means temperatures will continue to soar over the next few months.

Louisville’s average high temperature in the summer is 87.5° July and August average high temperatures are 88°.

As we take steps to keep cool, it's important that we keep our four legged friends safe from the heat too.

It's important to know the signs of overheating in pets. Their bodies heat up much more quickly since they are closer to the ground. Keep an eye out for the following things, according to the ASPCA:

  • Increasing heart and respiratory rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mild weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse

This can all lead to seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and an increased body temperature.

Hyperthermia, which occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle, can occur when temperatures are in the 70s, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Just as advised for humans, don’t leave your pet in a hot car. It can lead to heat stroke.

On an 80 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can soar to almost 100 degrees in about 10 minutes.

Cracking a window does not significantly slow down the heating inside a vehicle.

It’s important to note that pets do not respond the extreme heat they way that humans do. Dogs sweat mainly through their feet, according to The Humane Society of the United States; this makes fans less effective for pets compared to humans. Even the heat expelled through their feet is minimal.

The ASPCA says animals with flat faces and short noses, like Pugs, boxers, and shih tzus, are more likely to get heat stroke because they cannot pant as well as other breeds. Older, overweight and pets suffering from lung or heart diseases need to be kept cool.

Humidity is a detriment to dogs as well. "Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body," Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association explained to the Humane Society of the United States. "If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly."

A dog's body temperature should not rise over 104 degrees. Once a dog’s temperature rises over that level, heat stroke is possible; a dog’s organs could shut down and the heart could stop altogether, according to Hillspet.

If your pet does get a heat stroke, the Humane Society recommends that cold towels or ice packs are applied to the head, chest and neck. Cool water can also be run over them. Allow your pet to drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Of course,contact or take them to a vet as soon as possible for medical care.

Pets can get dehydrated just as quickly as we can. Keep a clean, fresh bowl of water handy for your pet is it's humid or hot outside. Make sure your pet as ample amounts of shade.

Hot asphalt and concrete can easily burn a pet’s paw pads. Keep walks to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day; walk on grass if possible. Booties or paw wax are also good options to protect your dog while walking during the hot summer months. It’s recommended that pet owners test pavement temperatures by placing the back of their hand on the pavement. If you can’t keep you hand their for five seconds then the pavement is too hot for your animal.

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