‘If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them’: Area veterinarian gives tips on keeping pets cool during heat wave

Excessive panting, wandering, collapsing, and red gums are all signs of heat-related issues in animals.


Gail Delaughter
FILE: Owners watch their dogs cool off at Johnny Steele Dog Park

Houston heat takes a toll on both humans and animals, so an expert veterinarian is reminding owners to keep their pets in mind during the summer months.

Dr. Diarra Blue is a vet at the Cy-Fair Animal Hospital. He said one way to do this is to take them out at cooler times during the day such as in the morning or later in the evening. If that's not possible, he says walk them on the grass as opposed to the concrete. To check if the concrete is too hot for your pet, he suggests testing the concrete out with your own bare feet before leaving.

"If it's too hot for you it's too hot for them, that's the first thing I always say," Dr. Blue told Town Square with Ernie Manouse on Tuesday. "When it comes to the time of day, if you don't want to be out there don't imagine that they want to be out there."

The average body temperature for a dog or cat should range between 100.5 degrees and 102.5 degrees. Animals will be able to function with temperatures in the range of 103 degrees but not for an extended time. To avoid them getting too hot, he says to always provide them with fresh water and shelter or shade.

Excessive panting, wandering, collapsing, and red gums, as well as a temperature above average are all signs of heat-related issues.

"They look like they have anxiety, you'll see them freaking out. They're laying down and can't get comfortable, those are going to be your most popular signs," he said.

If these signs are noticed, Dr. Blue recommends owners put alcohol on the ears, the pads, and the belly of the animal and add only a little cold water to the same areas here and there. At all costs, owners should avoid dunking their pets in a bucket of cold water. Dropping their temperature too quickly will have a reverse effect and do more damage.

"That's one of the biggest things I see, owners freak out, they see their baby in pain, and they want to do the best they can but that's not the way to do it," he said.

He also says it is important to understand your breed of dog. By knowing the breeds' normal activities, how they breathe, and how they react, owners will be able to spot signs of heat-related issues easier.