Kitchener-Waterloo

Here's how to keep your pets from baking in the hot summer heat

The University of Guelph's Shane Bateman shares tips on how to keep your pets cool this summer.

Dogs are especially vulnerable to hot weather, according to a University of Guelph professor

Pet owners should be aware that activities during the summer can put your pets, especially dogs, at risk of heat-related illnesses or injury. (Credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Summer might seem like an ideal time to take Fido for a midday run—but pet owners need to be careful in the summertime to avoid putting their furry friends at risk. 

Outdoor activities can put pets—especially dogs—at risk of heat-related illnesses or injury, according to Shane Bateman, an associate professor in the department of clinical studies at the University of Guelph.

"Although its often a thing to do and a lot of fun to exercise with your pet or play with them outside ... that in fact can be a dangerous situation," he said.

Dogs don't have sweat glands

Dogs are especially vulnerable in hot and humid weather because they don't have sweat glands, and need to pant to keep cool. Panting can accelerate their heat-related illness because it's a form of exertion, Bateman said.

He recommends walking your dog in the morning or late evening, when the temperature is not at its peak, and keeping to shady sidewalks and pathways.

During walks, Bateman advises taking frequent breaks and carrying cool water or ice packs to help your pet cool off.

Cats, on the other hand, can tolerate heat more easily, because they can shift their blood supply around their bodies. 

But Bateman said cats will still pant when they're overheated.

"Any unusual panting behaviour that you don't recognize as being common in your pet is of concern," he said, adding that vomiting and diarrhea are also signs of potential heat-related illness or stress.

Owners of amphibians and reptiles need to be careful their pets aren't trapped in a hot environment, he said.

Cars act like a hot 'tin can'

Owners are better off leaving their pets at home than leaving them for a few minutes in a car, said Vivian Laflamme, manager of the animal protection department at the K-W Humane Society.

"Cars are like tin can, so they heat up very quickly," she said. 

"It's very dangerous to leave your dog in the car, especially with the windows closed or even in the shade." 

Since March, the K-W Humane Society has responded 41 calls of pets being left in vehicles, she said.

Laflamme said once a pet is rescued from a vehicle, they are cooled and quickly transported to a vet in an air conditioned vehicle.

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