Pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn just like humans can if overexposed to the heat. Some breeds, like Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu’s, Pugs and Boston Terriers, are even more at risk than others. But Dr. Kim Hammond says the pets we love can be comfortable and safe in the heat if owners take simple steps.

The first major heat wave of the summer is blanketing the U.S. East Coast with scorching temperatures that are sweeping across the region. Temperatures of 100 degrees and higher are expected and Dr. Kim Hammond, DVM and founder of Falls Road Animal Hospital, warns that pets can suffer in the same way humans can when temperatures rise to dangerous levels.

“Pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn just like we can if overexposed to the heat,” says Dr. Kim Hammond. For example Dr. Kim Hammond says that on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.

“Heat stroke can be fatal for pets if not treated promptly,” says Dr. Kim Hammond. ”

A pet left alone in a hot car may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.”

But the four-legged family members we love can be comfortable and safe in the heat if we take simple steps. Dr. Kim Hammond advises taking these precautions during a heat advisory:

  • Water – Give your pets plenty of fresh, clean water. Animals can get dehydrated very quickly especially in the heat.
  • Shade – Make sure your pet has a place to go to get out of the sun. Try to keep them indoors during extreme heat.
  • Rest – Do not over-exercise your animal in the heat. On a sweltering day, the best time to exercise your pet is in the early morning or late evening.
  • Watch – Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. In extreme heat, the temperature can rise in your vehicle very quickly.
  • This can leave your pet vulnerable to heat stroke, which can onset very quickly.

Signs of Pet Overheating

  • Rapid panting
  • Pale gums
  • Thick, drooling saliva
  • Wide eyes with a glassy look
  • Unsteady gait
  • Bright red tongue and skin
  • Dizziness and lethargy
  • Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting

What to do if Your Pet is Overheating

  • Move your pet into the shade, or indoors where it is cooler.
  • Use a fan to blow air on your pet.
  • Wet your pet’s coat with cool water to lower his body temperature.
  • Offer cool water if the dog will take it.
  • If the above do not seem to be working, place ice packs or wet towels in the groin area, armpits and neck.
  • Contact your vet for further guidance.

Dog Breeds Particularly Susceptible to Overheating

  • Certain dog breeds – including Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzu’s, Pugs and Boston Terriers – require extra care in the heat. These breeds become susceptible to the effects of warm surroundings and exertion more quickly as they do not pant as efficiently as longer faced dogs.