Heat and Pet Health

You don’t need the Farmer’s Almanac to tell you it’s been brutally hot throughout the world. Here’s the thing: Some people embrace scorch with unbridled joy and you see them every day: Cycling and jogging at high noon, lying in a lawn chair with the sun directly over their heads or taking their beloved pets for long walks in the middle of the day.

As much as it does feel nice, you just know this can’t all be good – from heat stroke to skin burns to drops in energy. And that’s just for starters. Extreme heat may not hit you suddenly, but it can sneak up on you when you least expect it. All things in moderation, said the experts, so be prepared and be proactive.

And don’t forget your pets.

You may be enjoying a stroll under the shade, but your shaggy pooch may be miserable in the heat and just think of those poor, bare pads walking on scorching sidewalks.

HOW HOT WILL IT GET? Hot! Many are saying it’s the new normal thanks to global warming – and we’re being warned to make lifestyle changes while taking precautions against the extreme heat.

WHAT TO DO? The federal government reported that such extreme heat events can put people’s health in jeopardy and can cause death. Keep an eye out for heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), rashes, muscle cramps, fainting, exhaustion and heat stroke.

WHAT ELSE TO WATCH FOR? Key symptoms include dry mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting. Stay hydrated – drink before you even think that you’re thirsty! Keep cool drinks handy. SAFETY TIPS Start by paying close attention to weather reports. If you’re an athlete, balance your running schedule – even if it’s windy, the wind removes your perspiration, which is your body’s way of cooling itself. Don’t exercise at the height of the day’s heat. 


Your beloved four-legged, furry friends can suffer the same fate in hot weather – sometimes even worse. According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association in an earlier interview, pets can be easily overwhelmed during the dog days of summer, so it’s important to follow pet safety rules including: n Never leave your pet alone in a hot car. You’ve heard that a million times, but every year we hear the tragic news of pets frying in someone’s oven-hot car while they went shopping.

Temperatures in a car can skyrocket in a short period of time – it takes less than 10 minutes for the average temperature to shoot up to 49 C. Lowering a car window does not reduce the temperature inside. In this scenario, pets can suffer fatal heat stroke in a matter of minutes. It’s painful and cruel. Keep pets at home when shopping or running errands on hot summer days.


– Check for excessive panting, muscle twitching, an anxious or dazed look or vomiting. Take immediate action by cooling the pet down with cool (not cold) towels and water. If the pet isn’t responding, they need emergency attention from a vet. 

– Certain dogs are more susceptible to the heat than others, including overweight pets and those with long hair, thick coats or short faces. 

– Keep plenty of fresh water available. If the water bowl is outside, make sure it’s in the shade to keep it cool. 

– Keep your pet inside on the hottest days. When outside, keep your dog on the grass since pavement can reach temperatures high enough to burn your pet’s paws. If it hurts like heck when you place your hand on a hot sidewalk, imagine your beloved pooch. 

– Use air conditioning, fans, cooling pads or a kiddie pool for your pets. While dogs are at greatest risk, cats and other small pets can also suffer from heat stroke. 

– Listen to the weather report: If it’s going to thunder, many pets react negatively and need to be placed in a safe environment during the worst of the storm. There have been cases where dogs have been placed in bathtubs with their owners, covered in a blanket, during a thunderstorm.