Summer heat: A danger to dog and cat health

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By: Dr. Jack Stephens, DVM
Pets Best Insurance President
Four little dogs sit in the back of a car on animal print pillows.
The warm season will soon be upon us, and if you live somewhere with long winters (like I do) then you’ll be ready for it! However, if you often travel by vehicle with your pet, then you need to be aware that leaving your pet in a car with the windows rolled up can be very dangerous for pet health. In the summer months, cars heat up incredibly fast. Even leaving your pet in a car briefly can be deadly.

Of course we all know that cars warm up in the sun, but some pet owners do not realize just how hot it can become. As a comparison, try wearing a light coat or sweater. Roll up your windows and sit in your car. This is what it feels like for our pets when they’re left behind on a hot summer day. It becomes unbearable much more quickly than you would think.

In the summer Torrey, my miniature Chihuahua, has to stay home more often as I run daily errands to the grocery store, the hardware store and other weekend jaunts. Although Torrey is not happy about being left behind, I take comfort in knowing she will be safe upon my return.

It’s also important to remember that if you leave your dog outside during the day, you should ensure they have proper shade and plenty of cold water. Allow for sun shifting throughout the day, and plan to keep your pet in an area that always has adequate shield from the sun no matter the time of day. Pets do not perspire; they lose heat by panting and on a hot day your pet can lose a lot of body water which needs to be replenished. Long haired and large dogs are even more susceptible to the heat. Keep all these tips in mind, and your dog or cat will be in prime pet health.

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