by Preventative Care

Baby it’s HOT outside! Summer is officially in full swing. While most of us love a little sun and outdoor fun, remember your pets can become overheated easily, and that may be very dangerous.

Pets can develop HEATSTROKE in a matter of minutes if not attended to. Heatstroke is an inability to adequately dissipate heat. It is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate attention. The normal body temperature of a dog or cat is about 101° F…any temperature above 105° F is a true emergency. Heatstroke occurs most commonly during the summer months, especially if a dog (or cat) is left in a hot car. Remember, even on a relatively cool 70° F day, the temperature in a vehicle may climb 40 degrees within one hour regardless of the outside temperature. And, heatstroke can occur if a pet is left outdoors in hot or humid weather or if the pet is exercised in hot or humid weather.

SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE include the following: excessive panting, bright red mucous membranes, difficulty breathing, drooling, weakness, collapse…even bloody urine, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, or seizures. These clinical signs reflect hyperthermia, which can lead to kidney, heart, and respiratory failure.

What to do:

• Move your pet to shaded and cool environment.
• If possible, check rectal temperature.
• Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, armpits, and groin region.
• Direct a fan on these wetted areas to speed evaporative cooling.
• Transport to the closest veterinary clinic immediately for treatment (intravenous fluids, etc.).
• Offer cool, fresh water if the animal is alert and wants to drink.

What NOT to do:

• Do not overcool the pet with ice; cold tap water is appropriate. Ice causes peripheral vasoconstriction, actually preventing cooling.
• Do not attempt to force water into your pet’s mouth.
• Do not leave your pet unattended.

Here are some more hot weather tips to keep your pets cool and safe this summer:

1) Provide access to plenty of clean, fresh drinking water.
2) Make sure pets have a shady place to cool off (ideally keep them inside).
3) Animals with flat faces (think Pugs and Persians) are even more susceptible to the heat. Please keep them in air-conditioning as much as possible, along with older pets, those overweight, or animals suffering from heart or lung disease.
4) Do NOT shave your pet’s coat too short. Less than about an inch leads to a loss of the protective cooling “shell” and significant protection against UV-induced skin damage.
5) Brushing cats more often than usual can keep them cooler.
6) Do NOT leave pets in hot parked cars. It’s also illegal in several states including California.
7) Avoid walking pets on hot asphalt.
8) Don’t forget the poisonous food list: grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, and products with the sweetener xylitol.
9) Call the PET POISON HELPLINE (800) 213-6680 immediately if you suspect your dog or cat ingested any rodenticide or insecticide.