Heat Alert: How to Help Animals in Distress
If you see an animal in distress because of the heat, please take immediate steps to help before calling the emergency veterinarian or the police department. If the animal is locked in a vehicle, jump to pets in vehicles for more info.
If the pet is found outside, you can: provide the pet with a bowl of water; create a shady area for it lie down in; apply cool, damp towels to its body; set up a water sprinkler or kiddie pool; or knock on the doors of neighbors to see if anyone has access to the animal's house. If possible, bring the pet into your own home.
OHS, county animal control and your local police agency typically are able to respond only to calls about pets who may not survive without immediate emergency help.
Summer Safety for You and Your Pet
Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe and healthy during hot summer weather.
Summer Safety Tips
Summer can be a great time for you and your pet to be outside together, but you have to be careful. Leaving a pet in a parked car, even for a short time and with the windows cracked, can cause a heat stroke or brain damage after only a few minutes. Please leave your dog at home while you run errands, or find a doggie daycare rather than leaving your pet in the car for any length of time. More below.
Summer is the worst time of year for fleas. If your dog or cat gets them, their whole environment must be treated, including the yard. If your dog or cat is not treated, s/he may eat fleas, which could cause internal bodily harm (including tape worms).
Make sure your pet always has access to shade and water, especially when weather turns hot and dry. If he/she does overheat, immerse the pet in cool water or apply towels soaked in cool water.
If your pet is in distress, call your veterinarian immediately. It is important to note that a dog's or cat's normal body temperature is between 101 and 102 degrees.
- More information about how to keep pets cool and what to do if they do become overheated can be found here.
- More summer safety tips from the ASPCA, HSUS, Red Cross.
Keep Your Pet Cool
- Keep water bowls full of cool, fresh water
- Provide shaded areas for pets to rest in
- Use a misting hose to provide a cool area for a pet while outside
- Utilize a kiddie pool for dogs to splash and play in
- Exercise in the cool of the morning or at dusk, not during heat of the day
- Do not leave pets unattended outside when it gets too hot; bring inside
- Leave your pet at home when you are running errands (see below)
- Provide frozen or other cold treats - find recipes here
Cars and Other Vehicles
- OHS encourages you to leave your pet at home and indoors while you dash to the store. Please do not leave animals unattended in parked vehicles, no matter what.
- The inside of a car heats up very quickly. On an 85-degree day, a car's interior temperature can climb to 120 degrees in 20 minutes, even with the windows slightly open. You can download this warning flyer (PDF) to print and place on windshields in your area.
- Another concern is dogs riding on uncovered pickup beds. The sun heats the metal truck bed and can burn your pet's paw pads. Have Rover ride in the cab with you, put him in a secure crate, or leave him at home and inside a cool place.
- Remember to check in and around your car for any small "passengers" before you drive off! Especially during kitten season, which spans the summer months, smaller animals such as felines may seek refuge from the heat in, around, and underneath vehicles.
If You See a Pet In A Hot Car
- Record information about the vehicle (make, model, color, license plate number, location where it is parked)
- Alert the management of any nearby businesses (ask the manager to make an emergency announcement)
- Call your local police or county animal control agency (keep these numbers handy for emergencies!)
- Stay with the pet until help arrives
- Pavement, asphalt, metal, and even sand that has been heated by the sun can burn dogs' paw pads. A general rule of thumb is: if the surface is too hot for your bare hand or foot, it's too hot for your dog's feet.
- Pads can be soft and more sensitive after swimming, so take heed if your pup refuses to walk on the pavement after a swim.
- Some ways to avoid pad burns: walk your dog early or late in the day, out of the heat; walk frequently when it's cool to build up callus on the pads; walk on the grass when hot surfaces are unavoidable; moisturize your dog's pads daily with paw balms or creams; lay down a wet towel for your dog to stand on when grassy areas are not available.
- Signs of burned pads include: limping or refusing to walk, licking or chewing at the feet, pads darker in color, missing part of pad, blisters or redness on the feet.
- First aid for burned pads:
keep the foot area cool and clean. Immediately flush with cool water and a gentle antibacterial such as betadine. Get the dog to a grassy area or if possible, carry him/her. Keep the dog from licking the wounds. For minor burns, spread the area with antibacterial ointment and cover with a loose bandage.
- For serious burns, take the dog to your vet for further treatment. This is important to prevent infection and further damage.
- Generally speaking, keep your dogs off of hot surfaces whenever possible.
- If you leave your pet out in the yard, provide plenty of shade and water.
- Light-colored pets may get sunburned - more info here.
- Check with your veterinarian before applying sunblock to your dog or cat's nose.
- Walk time for your dog should be in the morning or at dusk when the temperature drops—avoid strenuous playtime outside in the heat of the day.
The Best Place to Be During the Heat of the Day
- The best place for your pet to be during the heat of the day is inside with you, keeping cool, especially if you have an air conditioner or fan.
- If your home isn't cool enough, consider going to a friend's house with your pet, or finding a doggie daycare or other pet-friendly place to cool down.
Pet Heat Emergencies