From our training in veterinary school, every veterinarian recognizes that all breeds have specific predilections towards certain illnesses. However, all breeds and species are susceptible to heat stroke. In the summertime, it’s easy for both humans and animals to overheat. It’s important to recognize the signs of heat stroke and what to do so a bad situation doesn’t get worse!
Unlike humans, our pets aren’t able to effectively reduce their body temperature by sweating. But, just because your furry pal can’t tell you when he’s too hot, doesn’t mean you can’t protect him from the potentially deadly effects of heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia or heat exhaustion. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pet safe as the weather heats up.
Signs of heat stroke in pets
Dogs and cats who are beginning to overheat will typically attempt to find water, shade, or a cooler place to go. They might also begin panting and drooling and their footpads might sweat.
If the attempts to cool off are unsuccessful and the animal’s body temperature rises further, you might notice:
- Rapid breathing
- Redness of the tongue and mouth
Preventing heat stroke in pets
During the summer months, try to walk your dog during the morning or evening hours.
Limit your pet’s time outside and be sure he has access to shade and fresh water at all times.
Never leave a pet in a car with the windows closed. Even when the outdoor temperature is in the high 70s, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
Take extra precautions when humidity levels are high, which can increase the heat index.
Also take extra precautions for brachycephalic dog breeds (short-nosed breeds), like bulldogs, pugs, boxers, and others. These breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke than longer-nosed breeds.
Treating heat stroke in pets
If you find your pet unconscious or in serious distress, attempt to cool him off immediately. Dogs and cats should be soaked in cool water, focusing on the back of the head and neck and being sure that no water gets into the nose or mouth.
You can place an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables on the back of the head, too, and let the overheated animal drink as much water as he wants.
Even if a pet has seemed to recover, heat stroke can lead to kidney failure, swelling of the brain, abnormal clotting of blood, and other dangerous conditions, so call our office immediately if you suspect your pet is overheated.