Excessive heat affects animals the same as humans

Summer is here and so is the heat. Make sure to protect yourself and your pet from the extreme heat & humidity that we are sure to encounter here in the upper Midwest.

Below are some important tips to consider when experiencing excessive heat:

  1. Keep your pet indoors as much as possible – no matter what age
  2. If the pavement is too hot for you to touch with the palm of your hand, it is too hot for your pet’s paws … just yesterday I took Paco to the mailbox … it was only 86 degrees but the blacktop was too hot for him.
  3. If your dog has to be outdoors, he or she must have a sheltered area to cool down and rest and plenty of fresh, cool water at all times.
  4. Limit walks to the cooler hours in the morning or evening.
  5. Do not jog with your dog during this excessive heat. Be on the lookout for signs heatstroke or distress.
  6. Never leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather. Even with windows open, the temperature inside can reach deadly heights in just a few minutes. This could be fatal for your pet!

*** Special note: If you see an animal in a car exhibiting any signs of heat stress, call your local animal care and control agency or police department immediately! 

  1. Pets with flat faces such as Pugs or Persian cats are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be extra sensitive to the needs of high-risk animals.
  2. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.
  3. Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. As far as skin care, be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
  4. Avoid Chemicals Commonly used flea and tick products & lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.


Dogs and cats suffer from heat stroke more easily because they do not sweat like people do.  They don’t have an efficient way to cool themselves down. If they are panting, it may be because they need the oxygen because they’ve been exercising, or it may mean they are trying to get rid of built-up heat in their bodies.   According to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, loud, rapid panting is one of the first signs of heat exhaustion. Other signs include rapid pulse, glazed eyes, elevated body temperature, excessive salivation, excessive whining or agitation, staring or vomiting and white or bluish gums. Only one of these symptoms need to be present to indicate your pet may be in trouble.

The Humane Society of the United States, Disaster Services suggests the following: 

  1. Lower their body temperature immediately.
  2. Move your pet into the shade and apply cool (not cold) water all over the body
    to gradually lower the body temperature.
  3. Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet’s head, neck, and chest only.
  4. Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  5. Take your pet to a veterinarian right away—it could save your pet’s life.