Dangers of Overheating

Steps to keep your pets cool

Car interiors can increase by 20% in 10 minutes. That’s enough to kill an animal or cause brain damage. Check the temperature: if it’s over 75° leave your pet at home. Here are some Fahrenheit-friendly tips to keep you and your animals cool:

  • Don’t leave your pets in a parked car, even while running.
  • Make sure your pets have access to plenty of water at all times.
  • Place some ice in their water bowl.
  • Provide an outdoor pool filled with cool (but not cold) water.
  • Know that pets are cooled primarily by panting and the pads of their paws, and fans do little to cool them off.
  • Avoid excessive exercise with your pet in the heat.
  • Seek air conditioning, shade, and avoid putting your pet in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
  • If your pet appears to be panting excessively (or if your cat is panting at all), wrap them in a wet towel, and see the symptoms and treatment for Heatstroke below.

Pets in Hot Cars

If you see or hear about a pet in a hot car, it’s important to respond immediately. Lives are at stake.

  • Existing law authorizes a peace officer, humane officer, animal control officer, firefighter or other emergency responder to take all steps reasonably necessary to remove an animal from a motor vehicle because the animal’s safety appears to be in immediate danger of specified harm.
  • Citizens are legally permitted to enter a vehicle and remove pets or children in imminent danger of suffering harm if certain requirements are met, as per California AB-797.
  • Existing law requires those persons who remove an animal from a vehicle to take the animal to an animal shelter or other place of safekeeping or, if deemed necessary, to a veterinary hospital for treatment, and to leave a notice in the vehicle that notifies the owner of, among other things, the location where the animal may be claimed.
  • If an animal is removed from a hot car, please take it to the animal service organization for the city in which the animal was found.

Walking Dogs

  • Avoid walking dogs on hot pavement and sidewalks, which can burn the pads of their paws. Choose walking routes on grass or dirt if possible when the temperature is 80 degrees or higher.
  • Test surfaces before walking dogs. Place your hand on the sidewalk or pavement for ten seconds. If it is too hot to hold your hand to the surface, it is too hot to walk your dog on the surface.

Heatstroke Symptoms and Treatment for Dogs

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, glassy eyes, weakness, fast heart rate, drooling, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and a body temperature over 104 F. If you think your dog may have heatstroke, here’s what to do to help:

  • Move your dog inside or to a shady spot.
  • Submerge your dog in cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) or apply ice packs or cold towels to your dog’s chest, neck, and head. Don’t spray your dog with a yard hose — on hot days the water inside a hose can reach near boiling temperatures. You want to cool him off gradually.
  • Give your dog cool, not cold, water. Or give him ice cubes to lick.
  • After you’ve started cooling your dog down, take your dog to the vet immediately. Heatstroke can cause life-threatening damage to your pet’s internal organs if left untreated.

The best way to manage heatstroke is to avoid it. Never leave your pet in a parked car. It’s better to leave your pet at home than to risk heatstroke. At home, be sure to provide all pets with shade and water or a way to get inside during the hottest part of the day.

Heatstroke Symptoms and Treatment for Cats

  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Redness of the tongue and mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling, staggering gait
  • Rectal temperature is over 105° F

If your cat is just starting to show signs of being stressed by the heat, move him to a cool quiet place and be sure he has plenty of water. If your cat is still conscious but showing signs of heat exhaustion, immediately take him to a cool environment, soak him with cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) and let him drink all the water that he wants. Then, take him to a veterinarian immediately. If your cat is found unconscious in a hot environment, soak him with cool (not cold) water, being careful to keep the water out of the nose and mouth. Place a bag of ice or frozen veggies between the legs and get your cat to a veterinarian immediately.