Pet Care: Heatstroke: Your pet can’t take the heat

Written by on June 11, 2014 in Blogs - 1 Comment

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On hot days, hydration is key. - Photo by Adeliadasofia, via Wikimedia Commons

On hot days, hydration is key. – Photo by Adeliadasofia, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us enjoy the sunshine and summer heat, but hot weather combined with a fur coat can be a lethal combination for your pet.

What it you weren’t able to shed your winter clothes on a hot summer day, and your only means to cooling off was by panting? You’re probably sweating just thinking about it (ironic, since sweat cools you off but your pets can’t sweat).

Flirting with heatstroke could be fatal for your pet, so let’s turn down the heat and get familiar with the facts.

No breed of cat or dog is immune to temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. However, there are some pets that are more prone to heatstroke, specifically short-nosed breeds, pets that are overweight, young, elderly, and the sick.

Since your pets cannot sweat like us, they regulate their temperature by panting, a cooling method that needs a good, long airway to be effective. Short nosed breeds—bulldogs, pugs, Pekinese, etc—are more susceptible because their tracheas aren’t as large as in other breeds.

There are simple rules to avoiding heatstroke. Never leave your dog in the car on a hot day. And a hot day is just 70 degrees or higher. It only takes a few minutes for temperatures to soar to intolerable levels, even if you have the windows cracked.

Additionally, never leave your pet confined in an airless room, crate, or tied up outside on a hot day. Limiting your pet from shade or breezy areas is a death sentence. It doesn’t have to be a 90-degree day to risk heatstroke. The best rule of thumb: keep the pet indoors during a heat advisory.

Recognizing signs and knowing heatstroke symptoms can save your pet’s life. Look for excessive panting, rapid loud breathing, extreme thirst and thick saliva. As heatstroke progresses, your pet may vomit or have diarrhea, become disoriented, have bright red gums and tongue, have seizures or tremors, or collapse. When these symptoms occur, your pet’s soft palate is swelling and restricting air flow. This means it’s becoming harder to pant and breathe; therefore your pet is unable to cool its body down.

Heatstroke is no joke; it’s an emergency. Go to the vet immediately, and make sure you’re cooling your pet down the best you can on your way there. Even if it seems like your pet has cooled down, don’t be fooled. The internal organs can take a beating and may cause irreversible brain and nerve tissue damage. Don’t let a simple day in the sun become detrimental.

by Adriene Buisch
Special to the Baltimore Guide

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