WSU Veterinarians Warn Summer Heat Can Be Deadly

PULLMAN, Wash. — Soaring summer temperatures can create potentially dangerous
conditions for your pets, warn veterinarians at Washington State University’s College of
Veterinary Medicine.
“Dogs and cats do not sweat like humans,” explains Veronika Kiklevich, head of the WSU
Veterinary Teaching Hospital’s community practice service. “Rather, they pant and seek shade to
eliminate excess heat. Pets do lose water through exhaled air, and that needs to be replenished
with extra, clean drinking water.”
One particular danger occurs when people take their pets with them while running errands.
“Animals left in parked cars during summer heat can develop heat stroke in just a short period of
time,” said Dr. Kiklevich. “People are best advised to not leave pets unattended in parked cars or
similar enclosures during the intense summer heat, even if there appears to be sufficient
The interior of an automobile can reach temperatures of more than 180 degrees within a
matter of minutes. Cracking open the car window is not a solution, as it may not prevent the heat
buildup or it may provide a way for the pet to escape. Parking in the shade may also seem like a
temporary fix, but offers little protection when the sun shifts or radiant energy drives up the
“Be especially sensitive to pets with special needs, including those that are old, overweight,
or that have heart and lung disease,” says Dr. Kiklevich. “Leave these animals at home with the
air conditioner as much as possible.”
A dehydrated or overheated pet may pant heavily, stagger, vomit, have diarrhea or seizures,
or go into a coma. If you fear your pet may be experiencing any heat-related illness, WSU
veterinarians urge you to seek veterinary medical care for them immediately.