West Lafayette, Indiana - As the summer heat intensifies, pet owners need to think from nose to paws when keeping their pets cool and well hydrated, especially if the dog or cat is overweight, elderly or a specific breed, says a Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine expert.

“There are some breeds, such as short-nosed pugs or Persian cats, that are not able to pant or breathe well in the heat,” says Dr. Lori Corriveau, pet wellness veterinarian in the college’s Small Animal Community Practice. “When an animal is overheated they excessively pant or drool because they cannot sweat like humans. Their nose structures, as well as age or being overweight, can make it more challenging for the animal to cool off naturally.”

Signs of overheating include the animal looking droopy, struggling to breathe, showing signs of weakness or dizziness or collapsing. More severe symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting. If an animal appears to be overheated, provide them cool, not cold water, as well as a fan to circulate air, Corriveau says. If the symptoms are more severe, then a veterinarian needs to see the animal. 

Other tips from Corriveau for pets in the heat:

  • Shade and water is a must for any outdoor pet. The water should be in a sturdy container to prevent spills.
  • Cars are too hot, even if the windows are down.
  • Exercise dogs in the morning or at night when temperatures are cooler.
  • Use your hand to test the heat of the sidewalk or asphalt. Without shoes, pets’ paw pads can blister. If the dog has to be outside, there are booties or shoes available.
  • Exotics, especially chinchilla and guinea pigs, are very sensitive to heat. Provide extra water and a fan.