As Summer Starts, Consider Heatstroke Danger For Your Pet
Heatstroke can happen to pets anywhere, but it is a special danger in sunny climates like southern California and during summer months, when temperatures in cars and other enclosed spaces can quickly top 100ºF. Not only are summer months prime time for heatstroke and other heat-related illnesses, but some animals are more susceptible than others to these dangers.
For example, animals with “pushed-in” or short noses like pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, boxers and Shih Tzus, are at a higher risk of reaching elevated body temperatures when compared to other dogs. This is because dogs do not sweat; instead, they release heat by panting. This means that short-nosed breeds are simply at a disadvantage in the heat because they cannot release heat as effectively as dogs with longer muzzles.
Most people associate pet heatstroke with the animal being left in a closed-up, hot vehicle. While this is certainly a problem, and pets should never be locked in cars alone, there are other situations in which pets can suffer from heatstroke. For example, putting a muzzle on a dog, especially one of the short-nosed breeds, then walking or running on a hot day can produce heatstroke. A dog left in a home during intense heat without air conditioning could also quickly suffer from heat prostration, even if windows were left open.
Signs of heatstroke for both dogs and cats include excessive panting, drooling or vomiting in some cases, fever, lethargy and eventual collapse.
In order to prevent heatstroke, Crossroads Animal Emergency offers the following tips:
- Never leave a pet in your car. Even a short amount of time can be enough to produce heatstroke in a pet on a hot day. Leaving the windows “cracked” a small amount is not enough to overcome the rapid heat buildup.
- Provide ample shade and water. Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. Add ice to water for extra protection from heat. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
- Exercise your dog during the cooler parts of the day—such as early in the morning or in the evening. Give your dog frequent water breaks while exercising. Be mindful also in hot weather that your dog may suffer from burns to the pads from hot cement or asphalt.
- Know which animals are at particular risk for heatstroke. Besides pets with shorter muzzles—like boxers, Boston terriors, pugs and Shih Tzus—pets that are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease are at risk for heatstroke.
- Know the signs of heatstroke. Along with excessive panting, dogs and cats with heatstroke may act as if they do not understand what is going on around them. They may become anxious and whine or make other noises. Signs of heatstroke can include vomiting, collapse, coma, and death.
- Take immediate action if you suspect heatstroke. Death from heatstroke is common and every minute counts. Remove your dog from the hot area immediately. While transporting him immediately to your veterinarian, lower his temperature by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, under the forelimbs, and in the groin area. Never immerse a pet in cold water or ice water!
At Crossroads Animal Emergency, we are here to help. We specialize in helping you with all your pet emergency needs