We love Los Angeles’ year-round sunny weather, but the mild temperatures can turn scorching in the summer months, and the intense heat can pose potential hazards for pets. To ensure your summer fun doesn’t turn into a pet emergency, use these tips from our Emerald Animal Hospital team to protect your furry friend from Los Angeles’ summer heat.
#1: Keep your pet hydrated
Hydration is essential for pets and people during the summer heat. Water helps regulate body temperature and replenishes the moisture lost through panting and sweating. Ensure your pet has access to fresh, cool water, indoors and outdoors, and refresh their bowls regularly. For outings, bring a portable water bowl.
#2: Protect your pet’s paws
Summer heat can transform sidewalks, asphalt, and sand into scorching surfaces that can easily burn sensitive paws. Before walking with your dog, place your hand on the pavement. If you cannot keep your hand there comfortably for 10 seconds, the pavement is too hot and could burn your dog’s paw pads. Wait until a cooler time of day, or walk on the grass.
#3: Never leave your pet in a parked car
Leaving your pet in the car—even for a few minutes—can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Temperatures inside a parked car can reach life-threatening levels within mintues. Parking your vehicle in the shade, leaving water inside, and cracking the windows are not enough for a pet left inside. The safest place for your pet is in your air-conditioned home.
#4: Know the signs of heatstroke in pets
Pets can overheat easily during prolonged outdoor activity in warm weather. Unlike people, pets can’t remove layers when it gets hot or ask to move to the shade. Pets are also unable to cool down by sweating, which makes it more challenging to regulate their body temperature. Flat-faced (i.e., brachycephalic) breeds, senior pets, and pets who are overweight have the hardest time cooling themselves and regulating their body temperature properly, which puts them at a higher risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Knowing how to identify the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke could save your pet’s life. Signs include:
- Lack of coordination
- Excessive panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Bright red, dry, or tacky gums
- Diarrhea, which may contain blood
- Bruising without apparent trauma
- Muscle tremors
If your pet begins showing signs of heatstroke, prompt action is essential to prevent permanent brain and organ damage, which can occur if their body temperature reaches or exceeds 106 degrees. Left untreated, heatstroke can lead to coma and death.
#5: Take quick action if your pet overheats
Time is of the essence when your pet is overheating. Their prognosis depends on how high their temperature rises and the amount of time it remains elevated. Here are some steps to take to quickly cool your pet down if you suspect they are overheating:
- Move to a cooler environment — Remove your pet from the hot environment immediately. If possible, take them indoors to an air-conditioned area. If that’s not feasible, move them to a shady spot.
- Provide fresh drinking water — Offer your pet cool, fresh water, but avoid forcing water into their mouth.
- Cool them down — Use lukewarm water—not cold—to cool down your pet. Concentrate on their head, neck, and areas underneath the front and back legs. You can use a soaked towel or gently pour water directly onto these areas. Help speed up the cooling process by fanning your pet.
- Seek veterinary care — After cooling your pet, immediately take them to a veterinary hospital, regardless of whether their symptoms have improved, to ensure they have not experienced internal damage.
#6: Make a pet emergency plan
In case of wildfires or other heat-related emergencies, have a plan for your pet that includes the following:
- Microchip — Although your pet may wear a collar with current identification tags, the tags could fall off or be removed. Ensure your pet is microchipped, which is the only permanent form of identification. Microchipping is a simple and quick process, and increases the likelihood that you and your pet can be reunited if you become separated.
- Emergency kit — Prepare a ready-to-go emergency kit that includes supplies your pet will need. Stock your pet’s emergency kit with these essential items:
- Food, water, and bowls
- A pet first-aid kit
- Leash and collar
- Collapsible crate or carrier
- Elimination supplies, including waste bags, litter, litter scoop, disposable boxes, and cleaning materials
- Medical records
- A favorite blanket or toy
- Evacuation plan — Some emergencies require evacuation, and if it’s not safe for you to stay behind, it’s not safe to leave your pet behind. Prepare for a potential evacuation by making a list of pet-friendly shelter options—including their contact information—and store the list in your pet emergency kit.
Enjoy a cool Los Angeles summer using these tips to protect your pet from the heat. If you have questions about keeping your pet safe this summer, or need help during a heat-related emergency, contact our team at Emerald Animal Hospital.