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How to protect your pet dog from heat stroke in hot weather

Warm weather means more opportunities to spend time outdoors with your pets, but the spring and summer months can be dangerous for them.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, at least 59 pets died from heat-related causes last year, up from 31 in 2020.

“When the temperature rises, people really need to be mindful of things like this about their pets,” said Melissa Knicely, communications manager for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care and Control unit.

As temperatures rise, pet owners should pay more attention to their animals and look for symptoms of heat stroke. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets safe:

A dip in the pool isn’t a bad idea for dogs during warm weather, but watch out for hot concrete or walkways around outdoor pools. jason lee

What are the signs of heat stroke in pets?

If your pet’s body temperature exceeds the normal range of 100 to 102.2 degrees, he may be suffering from heat stroke, according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). Symptoms include:

If your pet is showing signs of heat stroke, the AAHA recommends bringing her inside for a drink of cold water. If his condition doesn’t improve, take him to a vet.

The best way to protect your pets from heat stroke is to make sure they have access to cool water, shade and shelter, Knicely said.

What breeds of dogs have more problems with heat?

Studies show that flat-faced dogs and those over 110 pounds tend to be more vulnerable to heat stroke. Breeds that are at higher risk of overheating include:

  • chow chow

  • Bulldog

  • french bulldog

  • Greyhound

  • jumping spaniel

  • golden retriever

According to the AAHA, on hot days these breeds should be kept indoors in an air-conditioned home, except for short outdoor potty breaks.

Why is it not okay to leave pets in vehicles when it’s hot?

It’s never safe to leave an animal alone in a parked vehicle during the warmer months, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

“In the spring and summer, when temperatures start to climb into the 70s, it’s going to be too hot for your pet to stay in the car for very long,” Knicely said.

The interior of a vehicle parked in 70-degree weather can reach 100 degrees in 20 minutes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. A parked car with broken windows heats up almost as quickly as a car with the windows rolled up, according to the AVMA.

Should people walk their dogs in hot weather?

On hot days, it’s best to limit your dog’s exercise to the early morning or late afternoon, according to Knicely.

“That’s going to be the best time of the day,” he added. “We are very lucky in Charlotte because we have beautiful green paths everywhere, and many of them are shaded. That is a very good place to go in the summer.”

Knicely also stressed the importance of keeping dogs off concrete or asphalt to avoid burning their paws. He suggested that dog owners walk their pets on the lawn if possible and bring water so they don’t get dehydrated.

Hot weather.JPG
Dog owners should also brush and bathe their furry friends frequently. A clean coat allows for better air circulation, according to the ASPCA. ROBERT LAHSER file photo of the observer

Is there a way to groom a dog to prepare him for hot weather?

It’s okay to trim your dog’s hair for warmer weather, according to the ASPCA, but check with a veterinarian before giving him a “summer cut,” Knicely said.

“All races are different,” Knicely said. “For example, the Siberian Husky has a double coat, and that coat helps protect them in the summer, so shaving would be worse for them.”

Dog owners should also brush and bathe their dogs frequently, as a clean coat allows for better air circulation, says the ASPCA.

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Evan Moore is a service reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for the Denver Citizen, and graduated from UNC Charlotte.

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