What You Need to Know About Heat Stroke & Your Pet

As summer nears and the hot days start stacking up, it’s important to know how to keep your pet safe from the dangers of heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when your pet’s temperature becomes too high, anything over 106 degrees. Once your pet descends on the path of overheating, very serious conditions can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and even death. Knowing how to keep your pet safe is essential, especially during the summer months, and your knowledge could extend to other pets you might see locked in cars. Here is a quick checklist of signs and symptoms of heat stroke in pets, they are good points to learn and understand before you head out to run errands or spend the day with your pet.

Signs & Symptoms: 

  • Excessive drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid pulse or heartbeat
  • Body temperature between 104-110
  • Lethargy
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Staggering
  • Bright or dark red gums
  • Bright or dark red tongue
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • Heavy Panting 

 There are several ways a pet can overheat, including but not limited to the following list. Over-exercising in a hot or humid climate, being locked in a hot car, being left outdoors without a shady area to rest in, dehydration, and outdoor activity in the heat of the day. Consider leaving your pet at home on hot days, especially if you plan to leave them in your car for even a minute, it doesn’t take long for the temperature inside a car to rise to dangerous levels and leaving a window down doesn’t help. If you take your dog out for exercise, consider doing it in the early morning hours or later in the evening when the hottest part of the day has passed. Make sure your pet has access to shady areas, lots of fresh water and ideally, a water source where they can cool down, like a kiddie pool or a basin of water, if they will be outside during the warmer parts of the day. Heat stroke is something to be very aware of and knowing the signs and symptoms could potentially save the life of your pet.

If your pet is suffering from heat stroke, there are several steps you will need to take to get the help they need. Evaluate the seriousness of the situation, get your pet to a cool area to try and lower their body temperature as quickly as possible. Soaking your pet with cool water is an effective way to help lower their core body temperature but do not use ice cold water because it may shock their system and make things worse. Offer your pet cold, fresh water, and ice cubes to chew on if they accept. Starting the cooling process before you load your pet up to go to the vet is very important, so give yourself a few minutes to act before driving them to the vet. If your attempts to cool them down don’t seem to be working, getting them to the vet as quickly as possible is your next step.

As you head outdoors for those fun summer adventures, remember to care for your pets by giving them several options to stay cool. If your pet has a lot of fur, consider shaving them for the summer so they don’t have that extra layer of heat. If you see an animal locked in a car and you can’t get to them, call the animal authorities right away, you never know, you could save a life by being informed about heat stroke!