Heat Exhaustion is a Serious Matter


Our dogs and cats often enjoy a sunny day as much as we do, but when it gets too hot we need to pay attention to our furry friends. They can’t sweat the way we do, nor can they tell us if they are too hot or need water or shade. It’s our job to provide for them and keep them cool and comfortable when the temperature goes up.

Walk or exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hotter midday temps. Be aware that pavement can get very hot. We have shoes, they don’t. Pets need shade outside and cool, well-ventilated rooms inside. If you are working in the attic or out in the garage on a hot day, make sure your cat hasn’t snuck in before you lock up. Always provide plenty of cool, clean water for your pets! Put out some extra water bowls if you are going to be gone all day. Above all, do not ever leave your pet alone in a car when it’s hot. Even on a mild day, temps in the car can rise dramatically in a very short time.

It’s important to know the signs of heat stress and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is very serious and if not dealt with immediately, it can lead to organ failure or even death. Older pets, obese pets, and breeds with short faces and noses are more susceptible (such as pugs, Bostons and bulldogs, as well as Persian cats). It’s helpful to start by knowing your pet’s normal temperature, which should be around 100-102. Too much exercise and hot and/or humid days are major causes of heat exhaustion.

Some of the early signs of heat stress include restlessness and panting or drooling. As heat exhaustion sets in, the pet will start developing rapid pulse and breathing, redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, irregular heart beat, stumbling or clumsiness, and disorientation. Pets at this point may produce very small amounts of urine and sometimes black, tarry stools. If the pet’s temperature gets to 104 or higher, they are in serious danger. Ultimately, seizures, collapse, and death can result, if nothing is done quickly to help your pet.

It is imperative to deal with this immediately. Start by getting your pet into the shade or a cool area. Spray with cool water and/or wrap them with a cool, wet tool. Pay special attention to the armpit and groin areas. Get a fan going if you have access to one. Do not use ice cold water! Cool is much safer. Get the pet to drink a little cool water if you can, but go slowly. Do not force them to drink. As soon as you can, get your pet to the vet. This is not something you want to deal with all by yourself. There are so many problems that can result from heat exhaustion so you really do need to get to the vet ASAP. The best way to deal with heat exhaustion is to do everything you can to avoid it in the first place! So enjoy these summer days, but make sure your furry friends are enjoying them safely!

Stay cool!

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