HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - As the weather warms, experts say you may not realize how easy it is to endanger your pets.
Just like humans, pets can die of heat stroke.
We talked to Karen Buchan of Huntsville Animal Services about how to keep animals safe in the heat.
"It's so easy for an animal to overheat because they don't really have sweat glands," she stated, "so, they cool off by panting. And they do have a few sweat glands on their paws, but that's not enough to help circulate their body temperature."
Buchan provided these guidelines to keep your pets safe this summer:
- Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for animals and plenty of shade when outside of the house. Bring pets inside during the heat of the day and let them rest in a cool area. Do not leave pets in a garage unless there is air conditioning.
- Do not leave pets in a parked car. Animals may die from heat stroke. the temperature outside may be 80 degrees, but the temperature inside a car can quickly climb to 120 degrees.
- Do not exercise pets in hot, humid weather. Exercise pets in the cool of the early morning or evening.
- Be alert for the signs of heat stroke: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red tongue. If any animal shows signs of heat stroke, cool down immediately with cool water from a hose, and go directly to a veterinary clinic for further treatment. Dogs and cats do not sweat like humans. They keep cool by panting in cool air.
If your pet becomes overheated, Buchan said you should seek medical attention.
"Use cool water, patting them down with a washcloth with cool water. Not cold water because they can go into shock, but you want cool water," she said. "You can put it around their neck, under their arms, in between their legs to help cool them off."
She added, "If you see that your animal is to the point of so lethargic that he or she is going to just pass out, you need to cool that animal down and get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible."
At the Downtown Dog Spot dog park, Darlene Gable takes her dog, Mr. Bones, to play. But when it gets hot, she said they choose the time wisely.
"Now, we're either going to come down early in the morning when it's cooler or late in the afternoon," she said.
She also noted the buckets and water sources around to help cool down active dogs.
"We keep pools. We have several of them here, and the city was kind enough to put in water spigots. We have a hose and we fill them up," she said.
Leaders want you to know the risks of heat for your furry little ones.