“Every year, we say it, and every year people forget,” Dr. Klein said.
Know which pets are at highest risk.
An animal that is very old, very young or has underlying health issues is at higher risk for heat stroke and exhaustion when the temperatures climb, Dr. Hoggan said. Dog and cat breeds with thicker coats, like huskies, golden retrievers and Siberian cats, are also at risk.
Animals with shorter snouts and “smushed” or squished faces — like pugs, English and French bulldogs, Boston terriers and Persian and Himalayan cats — are extremely susceptible to heat, Dr. Teller said. These pets are not able to pant as effectively, and so they can struggle to regulate their temperatures. Make sure they spend as little time outside as possible, she advised.
Know the signs of overheating, and act quickly.
If your pet is panting excessively, with thick, ropy saliva, acting unusually lethargic, vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, get care immediately. In dogs, signs of heat stroke also include a deep red tongue and brick red gums. For cats, open-mouth breathing can indicate that they are too hot.
Animals with heat exhaustion or heat stroke may also act confused, Dr. Teller said. Cats and dogs might not respond to their names or simple commands, and some may stagger. “They may seem to not fully be with it,” she said.
Don’t delay care if your pet shows these signs. Moisten towels with cool water — not ice water, which can cause blood vessels to constrict — and wrap them around your pet. You can also buy cooling vests in pet stores, Dr. Teller said. Take your pet to a vet or animal hospital as soon as you can. The Red Cross has a pet safety app with instructions for animal first aid, as well as a directory of local animal emergency resources.
“You don’t want to make a mistake that could potentially cost you your pet’s life,” said Ms. Wilkes.
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