KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– Summer heat can be a problem for dogs and cats, but owners can reduce the chance of heat stroke by making sure the animals have shade and plenty of water, a University of Tennessee veterinarian said Monday.
Dr. Al LeGendre of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine said temperatures in the shade can be 20 degrees cooler than in direct sunlight.
Extra water is important because dogs and cats use evaporation — dogs pant and cats lick themselves — to stay cool, LeGendre said.
St. Bernards, huskies and other long-haired dogs bred for northern climates may need special attention, LeGendre said.
“Normally these dogs shed their undercoat in the summertime, but if they are not brushed regularly and the undercoat is matted and thick, they are not going to be able to get the heat out,” LeGendre said.
Leaving a pet in a car on a hot summer day is not recommended even if the owner expects to return in a few minutes.
“There is no good way of leaving a pet in a car when it’s hot,” LeGendre said. “Unless you leave the air conditioning on, the temperature inside the car can reach 120 to 130 degrees within 10 minutes.”
A pet going into heat stroke may collapse or be very depressed. Other signs include bright red gums and frantic panting, LeGendre said.
Pets suspected of having heat stroke should be given immediate first aid.
“Wet them down with cool water and use a fan to help dissipate the heat,” LeGendre said.
Other hot weather tips offered by LeGendre:
— Dietary changes usually are not necessary because pets will cut back on their own food intake during hot weather.
— A dog accustomed to jogging with its owner can continue the routine in the early morning or late evening, although mid-day temperatures should be avoided.
Contact: Dr. Al LeGendre (423-974-5524)