Hot Weather Help: Pet Heat Strokes
What is a pet heatstroke?
A heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia, or an increase in body temperature above the normal range (99.5°F - 102.5°F for pets). A pet heatstroke occurs when an animal’s body cannot keep its internal temperature within the normal range due to exertion and high external temperatures.
What causes heat stroke in pets?Without necessary caution, any significantly hot external environment can cause a heat stroke. For example, when your pet is exercising out in the hot Texas sun without access to shade or left in an enclosed car on a hot day. In order to cool down, dogs pant to release heat through the grooves in the roofs of their mouths, sweat (a little) through the pads on their paws and use a temperature exchange called convection. Thus, if the air around your pet is much hotter than his internal body temperature, he cannot properly cool down.
Can all pets suffer from heat strokes?Yes. However, dogs are more likely to have a heat stroke than cats. Heat strokes are more common in thick-haired, long-haired, short-nosed or flat-faced breeds. If you have a working dog or your dog suffers from a medical condition like laryngeal paralysis or obesity, keep an especially close eye out for signs of overheating.
What are the signs of heatstroke?Common symptoms of pet heat strokes include:
- Excessive panting
- Muscle tremors
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Increased salivation
- Vomiting or diarrhea, sometimes bloody
- Little to no urination
- Sudden breathing distress
- Changes in mental status
How can I prevent heat strokes in my pets?
In almost all cases, animal heat strokes can be prevented. Use common sense and watch for excessive panting and shortness of breath. Provide your pet with plenty of shade and freshwater at all times. It may also be helpful to plan exercise and playtime accordingly; both you and your dog will be cooler in the morning and evenings. If you can tell your dog is hot but still wants to play, take frequent shade/water breaks, or move the activity indoors with air conditioning.
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Sources: PetMD, PetMD and Doctors Foster and Smith