Imagine if you had a heavy fur coat that you could never take off, even when it was 95 degrees outside. You would feel pretty miserable in a hurry. Now imagine what it’s like for your pet. Not only does he not have the words to express his discomfort, he is completely dependent on you to keep him safe in the summer heat. While prevention is best when it comes to heatstroke, you should know the symptoms to look for as well.
Dogs and Cats Respond Differently to Heat Than Humans Do
When you get too warm, your body automatically starts sweating in response. Dogs and cats don’t have this ability. They pant instead or release heat through the pads on the bottom of their feet. Their bodies automatically use a temperature exchange system known as convection to cool their skin. This means that they exchange the heat from their body for the cooler outdoor air. Heatstroke can occur when the air outside is not significantly cooler than the dog or cat’s own body temperature.
Heatstroke Prevention for Your Pet
Even if your dog loves riding in the car with you, keep her at home when you’re running errands on a hot day. It takes only minutes for the temperature inside of a car to become deadly. Here are some other tips to ensure that your animal friend doesn’t succumb to heatstroke this summer:
- Make drinking water available at all times
- Don’t put a muzzle on a dog who is outside in hot weather
- Make sure that your pet has plenty of shady areas to rest and play
- Use a damp towel to keep your pet’s body temperature at a normal level
- Bring your pet inside as much as possible and turn on the fan or air conditioner
- Consider covering your dog’s paws or avoid burns from the pavement. You may also want to put off walking her until it’s cooler in the evening.
Indications of a Possible Heatstroke
Sometimes pets still suffer from heatstroke, despite receiving good care from their owners. Unfortunately, animal heatstroke has a high fatality rate. That’s why it’s so important to recognize these symptoms:
- Panting more than usual
- Gums appear pale
- Tongue appears bright red
If you notice one or more of these issues, get your dog or cat out of the heat and contact us at Grantsburg Animal Hospital Immediately. Our answering service will page Dr. Greg Palmquist for all after hours emergencies.
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