Heat Stroke Prevention and Treatment

By July 7th, 2011No Comments

It ain’t no sweat – if you take these precautions

Hot weather can pose certain risks to your pet’s health. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heatstroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat. Take these simple precautions to help your pet beat the heat. And if you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Don’t Forget, We Don’t Sweat

Dogs and cats do not perspire to cool their bodies the same way people do. This means that they can’t tolerate exposure to hot temperatures. Dangerous heat exhaustion occurs in only a few minutes if proper care is not taken.

Made in the Shade

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. Consider where the shade may move to when the sun’s position changes throughout the day. When it’s hot and humid, exercise your pet in the cooler morning or evening hours, and don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt, where sensitive paw pads can burn. Never leave animals alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, a car can become a furnace in no time. Even with windows partially open, the inside temperature can reach over 110 degrees in a matter of minutes. Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut can help prevent overheating. Trim down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Watch Out for Heatstroke

In most cases, rest and a drink of cool water is all your pet needs to recover from the heat. But if he gets too hot, he could develop heatstroke, which occurs when a dog’s or cat’s temperature rises above 104 degrees. Signs and symptoms of heatstroke include:

• Heavy panting

• Difficulty breathing

• Staring

• Anxious expression or behavior

• Rapid heartbeat

• Vomiting and/or diarrhea

• Weakness/Stupor

• Collapse

Heatstroke can cause brain damage or death very quickly, so if you suspect there’s a problem, get medical care at once. In the meantime, you must attempt to lower his temperature by dousing him with water and then wrapping him in cool, damp towels. Encourage him to drink, but don’t force it. Some animals with heatstroke may not be able to swallow properly and forcing liquids could actually make him drown. Even if your pet seems to respond to this treatment, his temperature can easily soar again, so it’s imperative that he get to the vet immediately to have his condition professionally evaluated and treated. Follow these tips to beat the heat and survive the dog days of summer like a couple of cool cats.

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