Tips to protect pets during a heat wave

As triple-digit temperatures become more common in the summers, humans aren’t the only ones struggling to stay cool in Idaho.

On a trip to the Idaho Humane Society, the shelter’s senior veterinarian, Adrian Dannis, explained how dangerous the heat can be for pets, especially dogs.

“Even five minutes can be fatal for some dogs,” he explained, “so I really like to run to the store to buy one thing and leaving your dog in the car is not an option in this kind of heat.”

Starting at 72 degrees, Dannis said cars can quickly overheat. Under idaho lawit is actually illegal to lock a pet in a hot vehicle.

Dogs may not recognize that they are overheating or that they need water. If your dog wants to go looking for a ball forever, it’s important to give him breaks, set a timer, or wait until the temperature drops.

Before walking your four-legged friend, Dannis also recommends pressing down on the ground with your hand for 7 to 10 seconds.

“And if it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your dog,” he said.

If the pavement is scorching hot, but your pet still wants to go for a walk, putting a little ankle boots preventing footpads from burning is also an option.

Bonus: “Seeing a dog wear shoes for the first time is so much fun,” he added.

But if it’s hot enough that they need shoes, they shouldn’t walk for more than five to 10 minutes, he said.

Dark or long-haired dogs, overweight or older pets may be more sensitive to high temperatures.

Flat-nosed breeds such as Bulldogs, Frenchies, Pugs are particularly at risk for heat stroke because they cannot exchange heat as well as long-nosed breeds.

Other pets, like chickens and cats, also need shade, plenty of access to water, and a break from the sun whenever possible. The same goes for working dogs, Dannis said. Just like humans, they need time to cool down between shifts.

In any case, if a pet becomes overheated, it is necessary to cool it down as soon as possible.

“Bring them inside. Turn on the air conditioning,” Dannis said.

“I recommend offering them some water to see if they want to drink.”

A good idea is to take a wet, room-temperature — not ice-cold — towel or T-shirt and put it on your body or paws, she said.

If he doesn’t cool down after a while and continues to struggle, he may have heat stroke.

The first two hours after a potential overexposure is critical to avoiding death, Dannis said. A pet that appears weak, refuses to move or drink, and is shaking or drooling uncontrollably should be taken to the veterinarian for emergency care.

Our intern Jack Bevan contributed to this story.

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