As pet owners it is imperative we understand how we can prevent, detect, and treat heatstroke in our pets ensuring they stay safe, healthy and happy.
Most of us think of heatstroke as only occurring when temperatures are high but it can also occur when humidity levels are high, despite the temperatures. Having your pet indoors in a hot, humid, and unventilated area can also lead to heatstroke. It only takes a couple of minutes for a dog to succumb to overheating and even less time for a cat. The time frame is even shorter in a car. Many people believe it is okay to leave your pet in a parked car for a short time if you leave the windows partially open. The reality is that a parked car can become overwhelmingly hot extremely fast even with the windows completely open.
Owners of short-nosed animals, such as Persian cats, pugs, boxers and bulldogs, must be even more vigilant. These animals are more likely to overheat because the shape of their faces makes for less effective panting hindering their ability to cool themselves.
Fresh water should always be available for your pet. Use a sturdy bowl that cannot be overturned.
Give your pet a break from being confined in the backyard and bring them inside into the air conditioning if possible. However, while outside be sure your pet has access to shade and shelter away from direct sunlight.
Pets who are overweight, elderly, or have heart or lung diseases should be kept in air-conditioned rooms or in front of fans as much as possible.
Take your daily walk or run with your dog in the early morning or evening when temperatures are less extreme. Touch the sidewalk with the palm of your hand - if it is too hot for you then it is too hot for the pads of your dog’s paws. An important addition to your pets comfort and safety are boots that can be worn to keep the pads of their feet from being burnt. We have boots available for sale in the pet store.
Some signs your pet is overheating include:
Excessive panting and drooling
Increased heart rate
Stupor or actually collapsing
When you see signs of heatstroke in your pet you must begin a cooling method immediately. Soak towels in lukewarm water and wrap your pet in them. Only use lukewarm water as cool or cold water can cause cooling to happen too quickly and may cause further harm. You can also place your pet in front of a fan to help reduce their body temperature or use cotton balls saturated with rubbing alcohol on the pads of the paws and on the abdomen. (Don’t allow your pet to drink the rubbing alcohol.)
After you’ve begun to cool your pet down, seek veterinary care immediately. In some cases, pets affected by heatstroke require intravenous fluids, blood pressure support, or other medications depending on the severity of their condition.
Learning to prevent, recognize the signs of, and treat heatstroke in your pet will allow both of you to enjoy a safe and fun filled summer together.
Heatstroke and Your Pet
Bekka Burton, Author