The dog days of summer are nowhere near over in our neck of the woods. While this is good news for those of us who love the heat, it can spell trouble for our pets if we’re not careful.
Heatstroke in pets is a serious concern throughout the warm months, and, as with most areas of health and wellness, prevention is key in avoiding this serious condition.
What is Heatstroke?
Sweating is the most efficient way of releasing excess heat from the body, but our pets don’t sweat like we do, and high humidity can make it even more difficult for a pet to keep cool. When a pet’s body experiences a buildup of stored heat, the internal temperature rises (characterized by a rectal temperature of 105 degrees or higher), and this can lead to multiple organ failure and death when not treated immediately.
Signs your pet may be experiencing heat-related distress include:
- Heavy or excessive panting or drooling
- Rapid pulse
- Blue, pale, or bright red gums or tongue
- Loss of coordination
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Loss of consciousness
Treating Heatstroke in Pets
If you suspect your pet is overheating, get him or her out of the sun and into a shady or air conditioned area. Soak a towel in room temperature water (never cold or cool, as this will lower your pet’s internal temperature too quickly and lead to shock) and place it on your pet’s belly and the back of the neck. Direct a fan on your pet if one is available.
Heatstroke in pets is a serious emergency, so please give us a call or bring your pet in to see us as soon as possible after you have begun the cooling process. Even if you are able to stabilize your pet, he or she may need additional medical assistance.
Taking steps to keep your furry friend from getting too hot is the key to preventing heatstroke. Consider the following tips:
- Limit outdoor exercise to early morning and evening hours when temperatures are cooler. Keep pets indoors during the hottest part of the day.
- Provide plenty of shade and fresh, cool water for your pet while outdoors. Add a few ice cubes to the water to encourage hydration.
- High humidity can wreak havoc on your pet’s internal cooling system, so keep an eye on the humidity levels and adjust your pet’s exercise and time outdoors accordingly.
- Offer your pet a frozen treat after being outside or playing in the heat.
- Pay special attention to short-nosed breeds, such as boxers, bulldogs, Persian cats, and pugs, as their anatomy makes them more susceptible to heatstroke.
- Overweight pets are at a higher risk for heat-related problems, so take steps to keep your pet at a healthy weight.
Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle, even for a few moments. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels in minutes, even if the car is parked in the shade and the windows are cracked. Pets left in parked cars is the number one cause of heatstroke related pet deaths in the country.