How To Keep Your Pets Healthy And Happy During a Heatwave

Summertime means warm weather and outdoor fun, but it can also mean excruciating temperatures. While most of us have tricks for staying cool when the mercury rises, it's just as important to keep your pets safe during a heatwave.

According to the ASPCA, one of the most important parts of keeping pets healthy and comfortable during a heatwave is making sure they have plenty of water. When it gets particularly hot, put ice cubes in their water bowl.

If your dog likes getting wet and there are no restrictions on water use, consider a good hosing down.

pet dog heatwave
According to the ASPCA, a dog's internal temperature should never go over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Getty Images

For many people, summertime means playing outdoors, and that's true for pets as well. But whenever pets are outside, it's important to make sure there's lots of shade around. If there aren't any trees nearby, set up a tarp to block the sun.

Keep in mind the effect hot pavement can have on a dog or cat's tender paws. Concrete and asphalt can get hot enough to causes serious burns. Limit how much exercise you give your pet. Only walk dogs in the early morning and late evening, when the sidewalks cool off. If possible, try to walk your dog on the grass.

Heatstroke in Pets

A big danger for pets is heatstroke, which can be fatal: Signs of heatstroke include glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing or heavy panting, excessive thirst, lethargy, lack of coordination, lots of saliva, vomiting, a tongue that is deep red or purple, seizures and unconsciousness.

As with humans, pets that are very old, very young, overweight or that have coronary or respiratory diseases are at high risk for heatstroke. Animals with short muzzles, like Persian cats or bulldogs, are also at higher risk for heatstroke, as they have more trouble breathing in extreme heat.

Humidity can also be another cause of heatstroke: Pets, especially dogs, will pant to cool off. Panting evaporates moisture from an animal's lungs, lowering their body temperature. But if the humidity is too high, panting doesn't work and animals overheat.

A dog or cat's temperature should never go above 104 degrees.

dog in car
Never leave a dog in a hot car. Even if the window is cracked, the interior of the car can get so hot that a dog's organs shut down. Evgenii And/Getty

Move the animal into a place with lots of shade or air conditioning. Put ice packs or cold towels on their head, neck and chest. Alternately, if your pet likes water, run cool—but not cold—water over their bodies. Let them drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes.

Pets in Cars

Never leave a pet in a parked car—not even with the windows cracked or the air conditioner running. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in just ten minutes. After a half hour, it can soar to 120 degrees.

This extreme heat can cause irreversible organ damage in pets, or even death.