As the weather heats up, it’s important to take extra care to protect your pets from the dangers of heatstroke, and the best way to do so is by being aware of the dangers of heatstroke for your animals. Animals can be susceptible to heatstroke if they are outside pets, overweight, or have a short snout. Dogs, cats, and other outside pets are especially susceptible to heatstroke because they can’t cool themselves down as efficiently as humans can. However, there are some simple steps you can take to help protect your animals from heatstroke.
What is Heatstroke and How Do You Protect Your Pets From It?
Heatstroke is a serious medical emergency that can occur in dogs when they are exposed to extreme heat for an extended period of time. It is important to recognize the signs of heatstroke so you can take steps to prevent your dog from becoming too hot.
Common signs of heatstroke in dogs include panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and an elevated body temperature. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it’s important to take immediate action. Move your pet into a cool area and provide plenty of fresh drinking water. You may also want to apply cool compresses or give your pet a bath with lukewarm water if available.
It is important to seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect that your dog has heatstroke, as this can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Dog Heatstroke Statistics
According to the CDC, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness a person can experience and the same goes for our furry companions. Heatstroke occurs when your pet is no longer able to regulate their body temperature and it rises above the normal range of 100 to 102.2 degrees. Heatstroke may also be referred to as overheating or heat exhaustion at times.
Most pets cool off by panting, as the moisture evaporation from their oral cavity helps lower their body temperature. However, pets that have short snouts, are overweight, elderly, or those with heart and lung disease are at a higher risk for developing heatstroke. It is highly important to be aware of the signs and know how to protect your pet from heatstroke as it is a health condition that can cause death if warning signs are not recognized and immediately acted upon.
Most Common Symptoms of Heatstroke In Your Pet
One of the most common symptoms of heatstroke is excessive panting. If your animal is panting heavily and cannot seem to catch their breath, this is a sign that they are overheated and need to cool down immediately. Other symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Warm or dry skin
- Bright red or purple tongue
- Glazed eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Weakness or collapse
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take action immediately. Move your pet to a cool area immediately and apply cool (not cold) water to their body. You can also place ice packs under their armpits and between their hind legs. It is important to avoid using cold water or ice packs on their head or neck, as this can cause further complications. Once your animal’s body temperature has lowered, call your veterinarian as soon as possible for further instructions.
By being aware of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke, you can act quickly to protect your pets from this potentially fatal condition. Below are some tips on how to keep your outside pets safe and cool this summer.
Ways To Protect Your Pets From Heatstroke
- Make sure your animals have access to plenty of fresh water at all times. It’s important to keep their water dish full and to give them access to a cool, shady area to rest. If you’re going to be outside with your pet, bring along a portable bowl and some ice cubes to help keep their water cool. Indoors, open the windows or turn on the air conditioning to keep the temperature comfortable. If you’re going to be gone for more than a few hours, consider freezing a block of ice for them to lay next to or investing in a pet water fountain.
- Never leave your animals in a car, even for “just a minute.” The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly, even on a mild day. On a 72-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 116 degrees within an hour, and cracking the windows does not make a difference which can be fatal for your pet. Animals can’t sweat like humans do, so they’re not able to cool themselves off as efficiently. If you’re going somewhere that won’t allow pets, make arrangements for someone else to watch them or leave them at home.
- Be aware of the pavement temperature. The pavement can get incredibly hot during the summer months, making it painful for your pet to walk on. Put your hand on the pavement for a few seconds—if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.
- Limit exercise during the hottest hours of the day, and make sure your pet takes frequent breaks in the shade or indoors if they start showing signs of overheating (panting heavily, drooling excessively, pawing at their mouth).
- Know the signs of heatstroke in animals and act quickly if you notice any. Symptoms of heatstroke include heavy panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal behavior, and collapse. If you notice any of these signs, move your animal into the shade or indoors and place a cool, wet towel on their head and back. Run cool (not cold) water over their feet and legs and offer them small sips of water if they’re able to drink. Contact your veterinarian immediately if the symptoms don’t improve within 30 minutes.
Heatstroke is a serious problem for animals during the summer months. Knowing the signs of heatstroke is also crucial so that you can act quickly if necessary. By following these simple tips, you can help keep your outside pets safe and cool all summer long. Remember, never leave your pet in a parked car—not even for a minute! And if you’re going to be outside with them during the hottest hours of the day, make sure they have plenty of water and access to shade or air conditioning. If you suspect that your animal is suffering from heatstroke, call your vet immediately and follow their instructions on how to best care for your pet until you can get them professional help.