you plod along on a summer day, or dash from
air-conditioning to car and back again, you’re doing
all you can to not pass out from the heat. There’s a
water bottle in your hand, shoes on your feet to protect
them from hot concrete, and sweat-wicking clothes (as
few as possible) on your body.
pets feel the heat, too.
can be in danger in so many ways," says Maura
Davies, vice president for marketing and communication
for the SPCA of Texas. "Use your common sense. If
you’re hot, your pets will be hot."
veterinarian Kathryn Sarpong works at the Metro Paws
Animal Hospital location close to White Rock Lake.
"I see people all the time going around the lake
with their dogs when it’s 95 degrees," she says.
"They’re playing a little with fire."
are much more heat-sensitive than humans, she says.
"They cool down by breathing and panting. When the
temperature is over 90 and they’re panting, they’re
heating themselves up and not cooling themselves."
this latest heat spell drags on, here’s what we need
to know about pets and heat. Even if you don’t have a
pet, you could save a life if you see an animal in
A fur coat is not insulating
animals exert themselves, their bodies are heating and a
fur coat prevents heat from escaping like it would for
us," Sarpong says.
said, Davies warns that shaving pets’ coats too close
to their skin "can decrease their ability to
regulate heat," she says. Even more importantly,
she says, they can get sunburned.
Hot sidewalks are hot for everyone
times every summer, we see paw burns," Sarpong
says. They’re painful, plus take a long time to heal.
Test the temperature by putting your hand on the
it’s hot for your hand, it’s hot for their
Know the signs of heat distress
will start to pant heavily and their tongues will hang
out and be a bright red color," Sarpong says.
"They’ll start seeking shade or the grass while
cues include listlessness and convulsions, Davies adds.
What to do if your pet shows symptoms
you’re far from home and your dog is experiencing
symptoms, pour water from your water bottle down your
dog’s back, recommends Sarpong. "I tell clients
to wet their dogs before a walk. Pouring a water bottle
down the back can help make that walk safer. It lets
them evaporate water and that’s what our sweat does.
It takes heat away from the body, giving them an
additional way to cool down."
them, she says. "If they are able to have a snack
and respond, fine. But if they start vomiting or being
unresponsive or collapse, they need to be seen" by
a veterinarian. "Don’t assume they’ll be fine
once they cool off. They should go to the nearest vet,
even if yours is on the other side of town."
Certain breeds feel the heat more than others
pugs, Boston terriers and other short-nosed dogs
"tend to be the most heat-sensitive and also
enthusiastic dogs," Sarpong says. "They don’t
admit they’re uncomfortable."
Your dog would rather be at home than in a hot car
biggest, biggest health concern: Never ever ever leave
your pets in a parked car," Davies says, "even
on an 80-degree days, even with the windows cracked. A
car can act like an oven; temperatures can get up to 120
degrees even on a mild day."
Sarpong: "If you wouldn’t sit in the car with the
window up, then your dog should not sit in a car."
If you see a dog in distress, call for help
you see something, say something," Davies says.
Call 911 or go to spca.org/cruelty.
they vomit and aspirate," Sarpong says. "They
get into multiorgan failure from heatstroke where we can’t
save them. They have a 108-, 110-body temperature"
— 99 is normal — "and we may or may not be able
to turn that around."
Pets don’t belong in pickup truck beds
jump out," Sarpong says. "If you tie them
there, they’ll jump out and hang themselves and drag
themselves. If you don’t want to ride in the back of a
pickup, they don’t want to. Wherever you don’t want
to put your 5-year-old, don’t put your dog."
Keep pets indoors if at all possible
SPCA of Texas advises people who do keep pets outdoors
to give them plenty of water and shade. A kiddie pool
filled with water is a good idea too, Davies says.
of all, bring your pets inside."
also recommends keeping the indoor temperature at 78
degrees or lower, even when you’re not there.
are products designed to keep pets cool, Sarpong says.
One is a blanket that’s put into the freezer, "a
giant ice bag your dog can lie on if it’s an outdoor
dog. If you’re going to go to that much trouble,
though, keep your dogs inside."
not "a super big fan" of another product
designed as a cooling vest, she says. "If it’s
not staying cool and people leave it on their dog too
long, that’s further insulation to warm them up. If it’s
used wrong, it makes things worse."
What about cats?
cats are indoors, we hope," Sarpong says.
who are outdoors tend to know enough to nap in the shade
when it’s hot outside, she says.
A few more things
humans, Sarpong says, "an obese animal has a harder
time with heat than an animal in good shape."
walks shorter; walk in the day or after the sun sets.
For all pets, make sure fresh water is available.
"Add ice cubes to their water," she says.
"Cooler water can help their bodies cool off,
kind to your pets," Davies says. "We
domesticated them and they deserve our love and