Opportunities for fun activities abound during the summer. Pets love to join the festivities with the family, but they can easily be put at risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. At Urgent Pet Care Omaha, we want your pet to stay safe and be healthy, so keep reading to learn some common myths about pets and heat that we are busting, and our recommendations to keep your pets safe.

Myth #1: Dogs and cats sweat to regulate their body temperature 

Dogs and cats sweat only from their paw pads, which doesn’t effectively regulate their temperature during hot weather. To help, they rely on panting. When dogs or cats pant, they are attempting to circulate the air through their body to cool down, and when they breathe in only warm air, they cannot cool down sufficiently. Help keep your pet cool by providing shelter from the sun and keeping her hydrated with fresh, cool drinking water. Additionally, you can cool your pet with a sprinkler or a kiddy pool. 

Myth #2: It’s safe to leave your pet in the car while parked in the shade with the windows cracked

While shaded areas may be cooler, the car’s interior retains its heat, and any breeze coming through the cracked windows will not be enough to circulate through and cool down the car. Think of a hot oven. When you open the oven door to check on dinner, you are greeted with a blast of hot airthe oven door may be open, but the cooler air entering the oven from the kitchen has little impact on the oven’s interior temperature. 

The temperature in a parked car can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes, and the temperature will continue to rise with each passing minute. Thus, pets who wait in the car are placed at risk of heatstroke, and your quick errand can turn deadly for an unattended pet. Do your pet a favor and leave her in your air-conditioned home.

Myth #3: Paw pads protect pets from hot surfaces

Although the paw pads of dogs and cats may seem tough, a pet can still be injured and severely burned by walking on hot surfaces. Avoid walking on asphalt and concrete, which retain the sun’s heat, during the hottest times of day and walk instead in the early morning or late evening. Test the road or sidewalk temperature by placing your hand on the surface and holding it there for at least five seconds. If the road is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. When exercising, be attuned to your dog’s behavior and watch for signs of heat exhaustion, such as excessive panting, lethargy, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, bright red gums, or sudden collapse. When your dog wants to slow down, take frequent breaks and ensure she stays hydrated.

Myth #4: Shaving my pet’s coat will keep her cooler

Depending on your pet’s needs, shaving her coat short may have negative effects, because fur helps regulate her body temperature and protect her from sunburn. Shaving, generally, doesn’t benefit cats. Dogs with short fur are prone to sunburn and rely on their coats for protection, but dogs with thick, longer coats may benefit from a shorter coat. Always talk with our team about what is appropriate before shaving your pet. Proper grooming, including regular brushing and bathing, will typically help to increase air circulation through your furry friend’s coat.  

If your pet is faced with a heat-related medical emergency, call us immediately at our Papillion office (402-509-2606) or our Millard office (402-991-9944).