Pet Heatstroke

Dangers of Pet Heatstroke in the Summer

Just like humans, pets are physically susceptible to the changes in weather. A dog or cat’s fur can be a good thing in the cold of winter, helping to warm their bodies, but in the heat of summer it can become a danger.

There are physical mechanisms such as panting which dogs use to help mitigate the effects of hot weather.  Panting alone isn’t enough for them to overcome severe heat conditions, intense exercise in the heat, or being left in a parked vehicle.

In addition to elevated heat conditions, you should be aware that dogs with certain health issues, such as obesity and laryngeal paralysis, have a higher likelihood of being affected by heat stroke.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

Although you may not be affected too adversely by elevated outdoor temperatures or vigorous exercise, it may be a different story for your pet. It’s important to be on alert for the following signs if your pet is in a situation that may cause him to become overheated:

  • Extremely heavy panting
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Bright red gums
  • Erratic, ragged breathing

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s crucial to get help for your pet immediately.

Prevention Tips

One of the easiest ways to avoid your pet getting heat stroke is to keep him out of enclosed, hot spaces. This means not leaving pets in cars for extended time periods during the summer. Even if you think it’s cooler because it’s a shaded area, the sun could shift and change what seemed like a safe spot into an oven. When traveling in the car with a pet, keep him in an open, well-ventilated cage and, as much as possible, keep the windows open a bit for air to flow through. Also, when your pet is playing outside on a hot day, be sure to keep water handy so he can stay hydrated by drinking frequently.

When to visit a vet

If you suspect heat stroke by detecting any of the symptoms listed above or if your pet is unresponsive, immediately remove him from the hot conditions. Spray him with cool water from a hose if one is accessible or wrap him in a cool, wet towel to try and bring down his body temperature. As soon as possible, get your pet to a veterinarian in order to prevent his condition from getting worse.  Heat stroke can lead to other serious problems such as kidney failure, blood pressure fluctuations, and electrolytes abnormalities, so the sooner you have him evaluated the better.


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