A small white dog wearing black sunglasses lays on a blue towel against the blue backdrop of sky and sea.

When we get to the sticky part of summer, it’s relatively easy for most of us to cool off with relative ease. Our pets, on the other hand, can’t beat the heat at Splash Harbour or Clearwater Ice Arena, like we do. Instead, they pant. And pant. And pant some more… 

Many Floridian pets may seem like they adapt to the weather and humidity, but paying close attention to pet heat safety – particularly this time of year – is of the essence.

Pet Heat Safety 101: Manage Hydration

Perhaps the single, most important way to combat the effects of the heat is to keep your pet hydrated at all times. Always provide cool, fresh water around the house and yard. If you’re out and about, take a collapsible bowl and portable, potable water with you and offer it to your pet often. 

The Signs of Hyperthermia in Pets

A pet that experiences high heat and humidity will pant – even without exertion. They sweat a little through their paw pads, but panting is their only defense against a rising internal body temperature. 

Please watch out for the following red flags:

  • Excessive panting
  • Labored respiration
  • Thick, ropey saliva
  • Dark urine 
  • Bright red or blue gums
  • Restlessness
  • Dry nose
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Lack of coordination or staggering

These symptoms indicate a real pet emergency and should never be ignored. Try to give your pet water, bring them in to a cool or shady area, wrap them in a cool, damp towel, and call our staff for help. Heat-related problems can affect all animals, but brachycephalic breeds are more susceptible to the risks. 

Heat Stroke in Pets

Internal temperatures over 103 degrees are life-threatening. Shock, brain damage, organ failure and death are unfortunate outcomes of overheating. 

Dawn & Dusk

Because panting is a somewhat inefficient to cool down, pet heat safety must focus on eliminating dangerous situations this summer. 

Instead of exercising at noon, aim for walks at dawn and dusk. The ground surface is cooler, the sun isn’t striking from directly above, and there’s likely to be a refreshing breeze coming off the Gulf.

Speaking of the sun, strong UV rays can be harmful to their skin and eyes – another reason why it’s best to wait out the hottest part of the day. Even during the hours surrounding dawn and dusk, always test the pavement by walking barefoot or touching the ground with your hand. If it’s too hot for you, it’s inappropriate for your pet’s delicate paw pads.

Easy Pet Heat Safety

A crucial element to pet heat safety this summer includes transportation. Of course you want to go places with your pet this summer! However, leaving them inside a parked car for just a few minutes can be disastrous to their health.

Also, try to trim your pet’s coat down to an inch or so to give them a little relief. It’s not recommended to shave pets, as this can increase their exposure to UV rays. Dress up your pooch with a cool, damp neckerchief. Lastly, be sure to spoil your pet with nutritious frozen pet treats, sprinklers, wading pools, and lots of naps in the shade together. 

If you have further questions about pet heat safety, we’re always here for you at Bayshore Animal Hospital & Avian Practice!