Do you feel the heat of summer? And Fideaux?
When it comes to the 90+ and sometimes 100+ degree temperatures in Louisiana and the sweltering humidity, we’re a lot like our pets.
“If it’s too hot for humans, it’s too hot for animals,” said Dr. Nancy D. Welbornassociate professor at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.
Welborn said that rule of thumb includes all outdoor spaces, cars and walking surfaces. So when you retire to the coolness of your home, take your four-legged friend(s) with you, if possible. If the animal stays outside, make sure it has these three things:
- a little shade
- Fresh/clean water (do not sit in the sun)
- Some fan if that’s for sure.
How much water your pet needs depends on many factors, Welborn said, including:
- The size of the animal
- The age of the animal
- Any underlying health condition
- pet activity
- The environment in which the animal is regularly found.
“The most important thing is to always provide fresh water – the water should be changed every day and the bowl, trough etc. should also be clean,” Welborn said.
Regarding leaving an animal in a parked car (even with the air conditioner running), the Humane Society of the United States advises against it, even for one minute.
“On a hot day, temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels,” the company said in an online resource guide. “On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. “
Dog owners should plan walks for early morning or late evening when the temperature is relatively low, rather than midday. Also, the concrete may get too hot for your dog’s paw pads. Make sure your pet’s exercise level is appropriate for their age, breed and physical condition, according to a press release from the LSU Vet School.
And although heat affects all animals, including horses and cattle, it does so differently in different dog breeds.
“Dogs of brachycephalic (smooth-faced) breeds like pugs, bulldogs, etc. cannot tolerate heat because the respiratory system does not have as good air circulation as dogs with longer muzzles,” said Welborn said. “Cats are affected by heat just like dogs.”
So how will you know if your pet is suffering from heat-related distress? Welborn said to watch for these signs:
- Excessive panting
- Pale or sometimes very red mucous membranes (gums)
- High temperature.
“Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem,” the humane society said in the guide. “Dogs’ temperature should not exceed 104 degrees.”
If you think your pet is suffering from the heat, take him to a veterinarian immediately for evaluation and treatment, Welborn said.
“The animal needs to be cooled BUT it needs to be done slowly,” she said. “An owner can wet a towel or light blanket to lay over the animal and place a fan over the animal to act as convection cooling. NEVER place an animal in ice cold water – this can cause more problems.”
At the vet’s office, the patient will be cooled, given intravenous fluids, and monitored for blood work. Welborn said severely affected patients may require intensive care, including management of organ failure, clotting issues and brain swelling.
For more information on protecting pets throughout the summer, visit www.lsu.edu/vetmed Where www.humanesociety.org/resources/keep-pets-safe-heat.