Protecting animals from the risks associated with hot weather – L’Observateur

By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Extension Service

Raymond, Miss. “When temperatures rise, it’s not just humans who need to take precautions.

Heat stress is just as serious and potentially deadly for pets as it is for humans.

While dogs and cats can get overheated, dogs are more susceptible to overheating, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

“Humans sweat to cool off, but dogs don’t,” said Carla Huston, a Mississippi State University extension veterinarian and professor at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Dogs cool off by panting and drinking water. They have a very limited ability to sweat through their nose and foot pads. When outside temperatures are too hot and they don’t have access to adequate shelter and clean water, they can easily overheat.

Hot weather can be too hot for dogs, even if it doesn’t feel so hot for humans.

Be careful with dogs and limit their time outdoors if they don’t have proper shade and cool, clean water when the heat index is 80 degrees and above, Huston said.

The following protocols can help keep animals cool when temperatures rise:
• Provide unlimited access to fresh water and shade.
• Exercise dogs during the cooler times of the day.
• Stay away from hot surfaces, such as asphalt, when exercising with dogs. Hot surfaces can cause severe burns to paws.
• Never leave a pet in a vehicle, even for a short time. Temperatures in vehicles can reach dangerous levels within minutes.
• Discuss with the animal’s veterinarian whether to clip or clip a dog’s coat and whether to use sunscreen on the animal. If sunscreen is used, be sure to use products specially formulated for pets.
• Keep them free of parasites, including fleas, ticks and heartworms. Discuss appropriate products and dosages with the pet’s veterinarian.

The severity of heat injuries in pets can range from heat stress, which is the least serious, to heat stroke, which can be very severe and lead to death. Early signs of heat stress in dogs include excessive panting, excessive drooling, anxiety, restlessness, bright red gums, and unsteadiness. Animals showing signs of heat stress should be kept at rest, brought in or cooled and given plenty of water.

The most serious signs of heat stroke can include pale gums, unsteadiness, a sticky or dry snout and mouth, vomiting and diarrhea, unresponsiveness to owner or commands, and collapse. If dogs exhibit any of these symptoms, seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

In cats, heat stress can cause restless behavior, panting, drooling, wet or sweaty paw pads, and excessive grooming when trying to cool off. Collapse, convulsions, and death can occur if the cat cannot cool itself.

Blue algae is another summer hazard for dogs.

“Pets should not be allowed to drink or swim in lakes or ponds that may be contaminated with blue-green algal blooms, which are bacteria called cyanobacteria,” Huston said. “These algae can be toxic and lead to fatal poisoning.”

Contaminated water typically has a foul odor, can appear green with a bluish tint, and can be covered in thick, slimy algae, she said.

For more information on blue-green algae, other places it can grow, and what to do if an animal is exposed, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website at and the VCA Animal Hospitals website at

Treating pets for external parasites will help keep their skin and coat healthy and maintain their ability to protect themselves from temperature extremes and other potential injuries. Flea, tick and heartworm medications are only the first step in protecting pets against parasites. Depending on where a family lives, it may also be necessary to treat the yard and other areas frequented by pets to successfully control fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

“Not allowing pets inside the house is the surest way to avoid getting fleas inside the house, but not all pet owners are supportive of this method. “said Blake Layton, Extension’s entomologist. “Whether pets are allowed indoors or not, the first step in flea control is treating pets with an effective and appropriate pet treatment.
“Good flea prevention on pets, combined with frequent cleaning of pet sleeping areas, can prevent fleas from establishing themselves in the home or yard,” he says.

Extension Publication 2597, “Control Fleas on Your Pet, in Your Home, and in Your Garden” contains more information on flea biology and flea control methods and products for pets and pets. the houses. Find it on the Extension website at

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