Heat Stroke-Don’t Let Your Pet Be a Victim

While temperatures so far this spring have been fairly mild, we’ve already had our first case of heat stroke at our hospital. While heat stroke (where the body’s temperature becomes severely elevated) is more commonly seen in the summer when temperatures get into the 80’s, it can happen at cooler temperatures. Here are some things to consider to help make sure that your pet doesn’t suffer from this potentially fatal condition.

  • You’ve probably heard this before, but it never hurts to repeat it, never leave your pet in an enclosed car during warmer temperatures. Even on days in the 70’s, the temperature inside a car can become deadly for your pet. Leaving the windows cracked open will not supply enough circulation to keep the temperature in the vehicle within safe limits. While many dogs like to run errands with you, for their own safety, leave them at home.
  • Short-nosed breeds of dogs and cats, like Bulldogs, Pugs and Persians, are at much greater risk of heat stroke. Be careful how much exercise you give these types of dogs on warmer days. And if you don’t want to miss their daily walk, try and schedule it in the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler.
  • Dogs with heavy coats are also at more risk.
  • Be especially careful if your pet is older or has underlying heart or respiratory issues.
  • Be sure to have fresh, cool water available at all times.

Signs of heat stroke can include: excessive panting, dark red tongue or gums, staggering, seizures, glazed eyes and confusion. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke you can start cooling him off with wet towels and by placing him in front of a fan. It’s important though that you reach your veterinarian as soon as possible, even if your pet seems better, as internal damage might not be obvious right away. If left untreated, heat stroke can cause brain damage and death.

We want you and your pet to enjoy the summer months and, with a few precautions, it will be a fun summer for both of you.

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