If you're hot, just imagine what it would feel like with a fur coat on.
Certain pooches are at higher risk of overheating, including "smooshed face" breeds like bulldogs and French bulldogs, dogs that are overweight or have thick coats, laryngeal paralysis dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, and injured and geriatric dogs, according to Gretchen Hageman, DVM, emergency veterinarian with Chicago-based specialty clinic and animal hospital (VSC).
Heat exhaustion can occur in just 15 minutes, at temperatures as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and it may be hard to detect. Animals can be very good at hiding the critical nature of their state, says Hageman. Take your pet to the vet at the first sign of heat stroke — it's better to be safe than sorry.
Don't make your kitty wait under a dripping faucet for clean H2O. "Be sure to give them lots of fresh, cool water to prevent dehydration," says Nicole Ellis, dog trainer and resident pet expert at pet-sitting community .
Ellis recommends dropping a few frozen blocks into their bowls throughout the day to keep them cool.
"Watch what they're walking on: If you can't put your hand , it's not safe for their paws," says Ellis.
"Do walks earlier in morning or late in the evening when the ground is cooler, or walk on the grass," suggests Ellis.
Ellis recommends giving your pup DIY treats made with bases like watermelon or chicken stock. Looking for recipes? Find them here. (For any fruit, be sure to remove the seeds first.)
Canines love a refreshing dip in pool, too. Ellis suggests taking them to a dog friendly beach or letting them lounge in a kiddie pool.
It's tempting to bring your four-legged friend along for the ride on beautiful sunny days, but it may not be in their best interest. "Be cautious," says Ellis. "They overheat more easily than us because of their fur." It's ok to leave them at home in the A/C.
Cooling packs that can be inserted into vests or placed on beds can help regulate your pet's body temperatures. Available at pet supply stores, the packs are especially helpful on car rides, says Ellis.
According to Hageman, symptoms of heat exhaustion include restlessness, anxiousness, pacing, bright red gums, and rapid heart rate while at rest (check their pulse by placing your hand on their chest). You can also check your pet's temperature via armpit or rectum; any armpit temp over 104 F is problematic, while any rectal temp over 105 F is dangerous. In more severe cases, your pet may exhibit symptoms like bruising, bleeding, wobbly or "drunk" walking, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or seizures.
Aggressively treating an overheated animal can result in "over cooling," when the body's core temperature dips below 99 degrees, says Hageman. If your pet becomes too cold, seek veterinary care as soon as possible, Hageman stresses; the condition can quickly become life threatening.