CINCINNATI — The first big heat wave of the year is expected to hit this week, and the American Red Cross said people should be cautious, both for themselves and their pets.
Marita Salowski, regional communications director for the Red Cross said it’s best to be in an air conditioned place, but if that is not possible, try and find a place with a lot of airflow.
“You want to avoid strenuous activity. Don’t be out doing, you know, working in the yard, don’t be lifting large boxes, keep your activity level low,” Salowski said. “You also want to make sure that you’re looking our for your neighbors, check on the elderly, make sure that your family members are OK.”
Salowski said if you notice you are sweating a lot, you should find a place to rest indoors.
“Often times heat cramps occur when you’ve lost a lot of salt due to excessive sweating. They’ll usually occur in the abdomen or the legs. When you start to get heat cramps you need to go inside, you need to lay down and calm yourself,” she said.
Rachel Halpin is the medical director at Care Center Cincinnati, an animal hospital, and she said she sees an influx of pets every time there is a heat wave.
“I think the most important thing to be aware of is that pets can’t sweat like you and I can to cool off,” Halpin said. “In order for a dog to be able to cool themselves they’re going to have to pant to be able to exchange heat and cool themselves. When it gets really hot and humid outside it’s a lot harder for them to cool themselves as effectively as would when it's cool outside."
If you take your dog for a walk Halpin recommends walking in the early morning or evening to avoid the peak heat hours.
“Some tell-tale signs a dog is getting too hot is if they’re panting really hard and their tongue is hanging out to the side of their mouth or if they’re not able to cool themselves down or relax. Sometimes you’ll even notice they’ll start to act a little bit weak as they are walking,” Halpin said.
She added pet owners who are on a walk and notice their dog is overheating should find some shade to let them cool down.
“If you’re finding that your dog has gotten so hot, that they’re weak, having a hard time standing if they just can’t stop panting and cool themselves down, or if you notice any other abnormal signs like if they start vomiting or having diarrhea all of those can be tell tale signs. I would say after about 10-15 minutes the dog hasn’t cooled down and stopped panting. That could be a sign there’s a problem,” she said.
Halpin added it is crucial pet owners never leave their pet inside a car even if the window is cracked.