It’s time for fun in the sun, and with some careful planning your pet can enjoy the summer as much as you do.
Dogs and cats have a higher normal body temperature than we do, typically between 101°F and 102.5°F. If their temperature gets above 105°F degrees, you have a true emergency.
The most common cause of heat stroke is being left in a parked car. Even in the shade, with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach up to 160°F in a very short time.
Another common cause is being left outside with inadequate shade and water. Dogs and cats do not have the ability to sweat to help them cool off; they can only pant, and if the temperature is too high, panting alone can’t cool them off fast enough.
Elderly pets, those with heart or respiratory problems, or brachycephalic (short-nosed dogs such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Pekingeses, or Persian-type cats) are the most susceptible.
Also, overweight pets that are not used to a lot of exercise, and have been active in high heat and/or humidity are more prone to heat stroke.
Signs of heat stroke include:
- extreme panting
- excessive salivation
- tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- bloody vomiting
Eventually, internal organs may be damaged, and death may occur.
If you suspect heat stroke, get the pet to a cooler place immediately. You can always check their temperature with any human thermometer designed for rectal use, lubricated with a little Vaseline or KY Jelly.
Cool the pet with cool (not cold) water. Rubbing alcohol on the feet, stomach and ears will help, as will a fan.
Do not use cold or ice water, as this actually shuts down the blood vessels in the skin, so the cooler blood can’t circulate to the vital organs inside.
Get the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible – this is a true emergency.
Avoiding heat stroke involves some common sense moves.
- Don’t leave your pet in a parked car.
- Be sure she has access to shade and water at all times in warm weather.
- Don’t go on long runs or walks in extreme heat.
- Plan ahead for warm weather.
Adapted by Dr. Kathy Kallay