STATEWIDE — Summer has not even begun and we’re already starting to see temperatures climbing towards triple digits.

With that in mind, animal advocates are asking local pet owners to think twice before taking their pets to the lake or even on an errand or two.

Dr. Stacy Mozisek, the medical director for Firehouse Animal Health Center, said it is best to slowly change the pet’s external environments.

“If you can’t stick your hand on the asphalt for more than a future seconds and it’s hot to your own hand, it’s probably too hot to be walking,” Mozisek said.  “If you’re worried that your dog is overheating and is not taking water from you, because sometimes they don’t want it until they’ve cooled off or settled down, the best thing is to cool the body temperature by pouring water on the body itself, or on the paws.” 

If pets do have heat strokes, they could be serious consequences.

If you must bring your pet along, please remember:

  • Fresh water and shelter should always be available.
  • Pets most at risk from overheating include: young, elderly or overweight pets, those with a short muzzle or those with thick or dark colored coats.
  • Mind your pets around water — most pets are not natural swimmers and any pet can easily tire and drown.

According to experts, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees on an average 85-degree day and in 30 minutes, that temperature can reach 120 degrees or more.

Something else to consider: Truck beds and metal surfaces get extremely hot in the summer and can burn paw pads.

What do I do if I see a pet in a car in distress?

If you see a pet locked in a hot car, take action immediately. Jot down the car’s description (including a license plate number) and go into a nearby store to have the owner paged. If you don’t get a response, call Animal Care Services or the Police Department immediately.  

If you feel that there's no time, an Austin-based glass company has offered to pay for any car window replacement for any vehicle’s window that was broken to save a child, pet or any life. The Mobile Glass campaign, #Break2SaveALife, has a motto: Don’t think twice, save a life!

Keeping a dog outside?

The SPCA said if you do this, your pet must always have shelter available to protect it from extreme temperatures and/or inclement weather. Another great suggestion is to provide a wading pool filled with water for your companion to cool off in during the hot days of summer.

And always put water bowls in the shade. If you can, add some ice. 

When is the best time to walk my dog?

Walk dogs early in the morning or in the evening hours instead of in the middle of the day when it’s hottest. Overweight and older pets are more likely to overheat during hot weather, so it is important to keep them fit and trim.

Symptoms of heat stress in dogs include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Profuse drooling
  • Salivating
  • Unconsciousness

My pet is suffering from heat stress, what should I do?

If an animal does show signs of heat stress, gradually lower their body temperature by 1) applying cool (not cold) water all over his body to gradually lower his body temperature 2) getting him into a tub of cool water or a lake, if you are near water 3) applying ice packs or cold towels to your pet's head, neck and chest only 4) letting your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Those most important part is getting them to a vet immediately. 

Oh and while you're here...

Heartworm is a large internal parasite that is spread through the mosquito. What are there a lot of in summer? Mosquitos.

Dogs with heartworm disease start out with mild symptoms like coughing and exercise intolerance but later develop full blown cardiomyopathy (with swelling in the limbs, fluid buildup in the lungs, and reluctance to move as the dog becomes quickly exhausted).

Then there's the nasty topic of fleas. Problems caused by fleas can range from mild to severe itching to skin problems and infections. Anemia (loss of blood) may also result from flea bites in extreme circumstances.

Most heartworm and flea preventatives are given once monthly. For low-cost options, there's Emancipet in Austin and City of San Antonio Animal Care Services