Very warm conditions in Barbados are expected to persist throughout the remainder of September and the greater part of October. In a notice sent out earlier this week, the Barbados Meteorological Services BMS) reminded the public that September and October are climatologically the warmest months of the year.
Follow our tips for helping your pets stay healthy while hot.
Practice Basic Summer Safety
Never Leave Your Pets in a Parked Car. Not even for a minute! Not even with the car running and the air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. For example, on a scorching day, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die.
Watch the humidity
It is important to remember that it is not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet.
Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they cannot cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.
Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a severe problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not reach over 104 degrees.
Limit exercise on hot days
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On sweltering days, limit activity to early morning or evening hours. Be especially careful with pets with white-coloured ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
Do not rely on a fan
Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans do not cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
Provide ample shade and water Any time your pet is outside, ensure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water.
In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they do not obstruct airflow. A doghouse does not provide relief from the heat. It makes it worse.
Cool your pet inside and out
Whip up a batch of quick and easy popsicles for dogs. And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you. Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat. Soak these products in cool water, and they will stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog does not find baths stressful, see if they enjoy a cooling soak.
Watch for signs of heatstroke
Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.
Animals are at particular risk for heatstroke if they are ancient, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease.
How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke
Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest, or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.