Heat wave poses threat for Tampa Bay pets, families this weekend

Crank up the air conditioning, because the heat is on. It is unseasonably hot this week and the heat index across Tampa Bay is reaching dangerous levels.

Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory, warned there was a risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  We are used to the hot and humid weather here, but this week we are definitely above normal.

The extreme heat continues here in our region.  Thursday, the heat index in the Tampa Bay area soared above 100, that is the "feels like" temperature, and it can be oppressive.

"So it's very, very important to stay hydrated, that that's going to be the major factor preventing you from getting sick," said Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Division Chief and Medical Director of the Pediatric ER, Dr. Wassam Rahman.

Heat illness can creep up on you, and the risk is greater for people who work outside, or are being active in the sun.

"Especially in children, they can kind of get hotter sooner or get dehydrated sooner," Rahman said.

Experts recommend taking frequent breaks, seeking out shade, wearing lightweight, loose clothing, and drinking plenty of fluids if you plan to be out in the heat.

"The sun burns. That's also part of it. And that damages your skin and you can lose more water that way," Rahman explained.

The combination of high temps and high humidity can also be dangerous for your pets.  They can easily overheat with the sun beating down, and develop heat exhaustion.

"If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, especially during the summer, making sure they have shade fresh water and they're able to spend some time indoors and the air conditioned to cool down," said Dr. Meaghan Callahan with Veterinary Emergency Group.

Heavy panting, excess slobber, and a rapid heart rate are all signs your pooch needs to cool down.

The height of the extreme heat is in the middle of the day, a time we should all try and avoid.

"It's best to walk them in the morning or the evening when the temperatures are a little cooler. And if we're traveling with them, never leaving them in a hot car," Callahan said.