How to Help Your Pet in the Heat: Tips for Cat and Dog Owners

Our pets suffer from the heat just as much as we do. But while humans can at least dress easily, pets can’t take off their “coats. Like humans, cats and dogs can get heatstroke, paw pad burns, and even cardiac arrest from the heat.

It’s easy to tell when an animal is hot: he doesn’t eat much, doesn’t respond to commands, lies down all the time, and breathes heavily. If he vomits, has a rapid pulse, or loses consciousness, he should be taken to the vet immediately.

How to help your dog during a heat wave

To prevent your dog from overheating in the summer and having trouble feeling better, stick to the following rules on hot days.

  • Make sure your dog has access to clean, cool water at all times. Take your pet’s water bottle with you on walks.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a locked car, especially if the windows are closed.
  • Wear a wet bandana or wet collar on your dog.
  • Wash his food bowl often so food scraps don’t rot in the heat.
  • Don’t let your dog lie on the hot pavement so he doesn’t burn his paws. It’s better to take him to the grass.
  • You can trim your dog’s coat during the hot season, but don’t shave it off completely – the hairs protect him from overheating. It’s important to brush dogs with long coats regularly in summer.
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend with your dog on walks and physical activities. This is especially true for breeds vulnerable to overheating, such as bulldogs and pugs.
  • In the heat, you can bathe your dog in a pool or natural body of water.

How to help a cat during a heat wave

Many cats become lethargic and lose their appetite in the heat. Overheating is especially dangerous for animals that are overweight, have cardiovascular diseases, and flattened faces. It is more difficult for elderly cats to bear the heat.

  • Provide the cat with constant access to water and change the water at least twice a day.
  • Give your cat wet food instead of dry food more often, or soak its dry food.
  • Get the cat a special cooling mat.
  • Do not shave or trim the cat. Hair protects the cat from overheating. It is important to brush long-haired pets in the summer.
  • If you open windows for airing, be sure to attach a safety net to the window.
  • Throw food away if the cat doesn’t finish it since food spoils quickly in the heat.
  • Close curtains so the room gets less heat from the sun.
  • If the cat is hot, you may wet his paw pads and stomach with water.
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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