Summer 2023

Heat stroke warning

Keep a cool head to prevent heat stroke.

The long summer days are cherished, and for good reason. They open the world to outdoor activities, from barbecues to camping, from festivals to farmers markets. For many of these activities, our dogs are delighted to come along. But beware of the dangers summer heat presents to your dog.

Who’s at higher risk?

Large predators in the wild spend the hottest part of the day napping the shade or in the cooler temperatures of a den. It’s not really “natural” for dogs to be active in the heat. They’re not designed for it, so they have a difficult time staying cool. Panting is their most important defense against heat, and it’s not enough to keep them cool during hot and especially humid weather.

Although all dogs need protection from summer heat, some are at higher risk than others. Puppies, as well as older or chronically ill dogs, may overheat more easily and more quickly. Dogs with short noses – these dogs are called “brachycephalic” – are also at higher risk. According to data from Nationwide®, owners of brachycephalic breeds are nearly three times more likely to submit a claim for heatstroke, with English bulldogs and French bulldogs being the most affected breed.

What about cats? The descendants of wild desert-dwellers, cats like things a little warmer than dogs do. They’re also usually not out and about with their families as dogs are, and prefer to spend warm days as wild cats do: napping in a cool place, ideally indoors.

Dog and cat napping indoors

Avoiding risks

When it comes to avoiding heat stroke, awareness is key. Temperatures that seem merely “warm” to you may be too hot for your dog, especially if heat is combined with humidity. Protect your pets from these common heat hazards:

Vehicles: Regardless of size, even in mild temperatures vehicles can quickly become ovens, rapidly heating up their interiors to deadly levels—even if windows are cracked or the vehicle is parked in shade. Don’t take a chance: Never leave your pet inside a vehicle on even a mildly warm day. (Don’t leave the car running with the air conditioning on, either. If the car is on, the pet could lock the doors, touch the gears or even hit the gas pedals.)

Sidewalks and streets: Paved surfaces like concrete sidewalks and asphalt driveways can get much hotter than the air temperatures. On a sunny 85° day, the concrete can exceed 100°. If you can’t keep the back of your hand on a hot sidewalk for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.

Peak heat: Don’t leave your pet out unattended in the hottest part of the day. Schedule walks for early morning or evening, and provide shade and cool water when they do go out briefly.

Even if you take precautions, your pet may overheat. Know the symptoms of heat stress, and where to get veterinary help if you’re on vacation with your pet.

Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs

Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can turn lethal very quickly, especially in dogs who are less able to regulate their internal temperatures, such as pugs, French and English bulldogs, and other short-muzzled breeds.

French bulldog standing in sunny field

At the first sign of overheating – usually, rapid panting – move the pet into the shade or an air-conditioned building, and offer them a small amount of cool water to drink. Too much can lead to vomiting. Soak a towel in cool water, and place your pet on top of it or have your pet lay on it. Turn on a fan if possible. Do not use ice water or plunge them into a cold bath, as this can bring on shock.

Dogs who display more serious signs of heat stroke need immediate veterinary care:

  • Frantic panting or difficulty breathing
  • Bright red or gray tongue and/or gums
  • Salivating and drooling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness, confusion, staggering or collapse

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Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet
Add-a-pet

Take advantage of your multi-pet discount when you add a pet to your policy. When covering two or three pets, you can receive a 5% discount. When covering four or more pets, you'll save 10% on your base premium. Visit the member portal to add a pet. 

Enroll a new pet

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