How to keep your pets safe during a heat wave

Tips to keep your pets safe during a heat wave

BOSTON — Summertime is all fun and games until temperatures start to rise to potentially deadly levels.

You already know how to keep yourself safe and cool, but do you know how to make sure your furry friend doesn't suffer from the 100-degree weather?

The massive hear index forecasted for this weekend suggests no one, pets or humans, should stay outside directly under the sun for long periods of time. Hydration should be a key focus, so every time you fill up your glass of water or water bottle, remember to fill up your pet's water dish as well.

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In hot weather, veterinarians worry mostly about dogs being left inside cars. Even in 80-degree weather, the inside of a car sitting in the sun can heat up to 110 degrees in just 10 minutes.

The rule of thumb is: if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for Fido.

For indoor cats, make sure the air conditioning is on, even when you're not home. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, make sure to properly ventilate the entire house, placing fans in strategic positions to ensure proper airflow.

Dogs have very sensitive paws which can get burned by hot sidewalks. Outdoor play should be limited to early mornings or later in the evening, preferably once the sun begins to set. The same rule applies for walks around the neighborhood.

Since dogs cool off on their paws, if you can't get to the beach, a lake or a pool, you can fill up a kiddie pool or a wide basin with water they can play in. Make sure to change the water if it sits out in the sun for too long.

Iced broth cubes makes for a delicious cooling treat pups can enjoy in the shade.

Be especially cautious with dogs who have short snouts, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, as these breeds are more vulnerable to overheating.

Here are 5 tips to keep your dog safe this summer, from the U.S. Humane Society: 

1. Avoid hot asphalt:
Avoid walking your dog on hot sidewalks with asphalt. Being close to the ground, your dog's body can heat up quickly and sensitive paws can burn. Try and walk your dog in the grass whenever possible.

2. Watch the humidity: 
"Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which can take heat away from their body," said Dr. Barry Kellogg, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. "If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels very quickly."

3. Do not shave your dog:
The layers of a dog's coat helps protect it from overheating and sunburn. Brushing fluffy dogs more frequently can help with excessive heat.

4. Fans are often not enough to keep dogs cool:
Dogs respond to heat differently than humans -- for example, they sweat primarily through their feet. Fans are not as effective on dogs as they are on people. Cooling body wraps, mats and other products made for dogs can help. You can soak them in cool water as well. If your dog does well in a bath, a cooling soak can help.

5. Limit exercise on hot days:
On very hot days, pets should be limited to walks in the early morning or evening. Dogs with white-colored ears are susceptible to skin cancer. Short-nosed dogs, like pugs, often have difficulty breathing.

It can be difficult to know when an animal is having an emergency -- experts say the best way to know is to take your dog’s temperature. Any temperature over 104 degrees can put your dog at risk of heatstroke.

The warning signs of heatstroke in dogs include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing. If they excessively salivate, lose consciousness or their tongue turns a deep red or purple color, call a veterinarian immediately.

Animals at highest risk of heatstroke are usually animals that are very old or very young, underweight or not conditioned to exercise. Some breeds, including boxers, pugs, Shih Tzus and dogs with short muzzles are exceptionally at risk.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke:
Immediately move the dog to an air-conditioned area, and apply ice packs and cold towels to their head, neck and chest. Run cool water over them, but make sure the water is not too cold. Allow them to have small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.

For more information, you can visit the Human Society's website and social media.