Pet Food Institute

Pet Food Institute calls attention to need for shade, water or indoor habitat

Experts urge special care against heat danger for dogs

If you’re dressed in shorts and complaining about the heat, remember that your dog may be feeling the high temperatures even worse. Our pets require cool air, shade and access to a lot of water to stay safe during the summer.

But, tragically, many dogs whose owners or handlers don’t realize how much a few degrees difference in temperature can make, suffer in silence because they are left out in the sun, tied up in a yard or in a hot concrete parking lot with no shade and insufficient water. Every year, there are reports throughout the Caribbean of dogs seriously sickened or dying from heat stroke. 

“With the summer sun and the humidity reaching what feels like triple digit temperatures in The Bahamas and Caribbean, we humans have lots of options and advantages. We can duck into an air-conditioned building, slip into the shade of a tree or take a dip in the sea,” said Dr. Valentino Grant, one of four veterinarians who serves the busy Caves Village Veterinary Hospital in Nassau, Bahamas. “But a dog does not have the same options for escape from the scorching sun. If its owner or handler is not sensitive to the impact of heat, the result could be disaster or even death.”

It is concern for suffering that drove the Pet Food Institute (PFI), which is committed to education about pet wellness, to remind domestic pet caregivers to pay special attention to heat and know the warning signs of an overheated dog.

“As climate change drives summer temperatures up all over the globe, making warm climates like the tropics even hotter, it is critical that pet owners know the signs of heat-related distress and take immediate action,” said Nat Davies, director of business operations with PFI. “First, remember that your pet’s body temperature is already higher than yours. Their bodies stay warmer even at rest in moderate temps. When they begin to overheat, they cannot sweat like we do so they pant. That provides temporary relief but if the internal heat builds up or is too intense, dogs cannot keep themselves cool and can overheat, instead.”

That’s when the serious side effects occur. PFI suggests watching for symptoms including heavy panting or salivating, vomiting, diarrhea, urinating blood, collapse, incontinence or seizures.

“Ensuring dogs are safe in summer is something we can all do with very little effort,” said Nat Davies. “This is a cause we can get behind that doesn’t cost a penny but can save the lives of our family’s best friends who give love unconditionally and ask for so little from us in return.”

PFI supports wellness throughout the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean (Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas) and other countries in the Middle East and Asia. Earlier this year, its representatives hosted a series of zoom meetings reaching thousands of young students sharing information on harmful foods – chocolate, onions, grapes, garlic, macadamia nuts – among others. The good news, say experts, is that pets can enjoy a small amount of human’s favourite summer guilty pleasure, watermelon, just so long as seeds are removed.