Heatstroke in Pets

Summer in Kansas can be brutally hot and your pet is not immune to the heat. High temperatures can be just as deadly for animals as it is for humans—especially for pets in cars, outside or in an area that is not climate controlled. In addition, animals like dogs and cats don't sweat, so controlling their inner body temperature is a bit trickier than it is for humans. The only way dogs and cats can regulate their internal temperatures is by panting.

We have tips for you to avoid heatstroke in your pets this summer, and beyond.

Signs of Heatstroke

  • Your pet may start panting excessively. While panting is a normal way for animals to control their body heat, panting heavily may indicate your pet is overheating. In this case, you should get them to a cooler environment right away, and you may also run your pet under cool or tepid water to cool them down. If your dog has a lot of fur, however, you should be careful as water can increase heat retention.

  • Another sign of heatstroke in pets is lethargy. If your pet becomes lethargic while on a walk or while being outside, get them inside immediately and start helping them cool down. Offer your pet cool water (not too cold), and you can even dab rubbing alcohol on their paw pads to help cool them. You should take their temperature and can stop cooling procedures when their internal temperature reaches 102.2 degrees.

  • Difficulty breathing can be another sign of heatstroke. Dogs with short snouts such as pugs and bulldogs are more suscipitble to heatstroke because of their facial structure.

How to Prevent Heatstroke

  • Limit exercise to the early morning or late evening when temperatures are at their coolest. Even in these lower temperatures, if it's humid, dogs can get too hot. If you have a dog with heart or lung issues or who is overweight, it's best not to exercise them in the heat as they are at a greater risk for heatstroke.

  • Never, ever, ever, leave a pet in a car. Even on days that you don't think are hot, cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures. Leave your good boy or girl at home or take them inside with you.

  • Don't leave your pet outside alone in the heat. While your pet is outside make sure they have access to shade and fresh water. If you need to leave, bring them inside with access to air conditioning.

  • Dogs and cats might start shedding their thick undercoats when it gets hotter outside as a way to keep cooler as well. However, the outer coat can help protect your pet from the heat, so resist the urge to shave them too much.

If You Suspect Heatstroke

If your pet is showing any of the signs above, contact Cimarron Animal Hospital right away for an examination and treatment if needed. Heatstroke can progress very quickly so time is of the essence—don't delay getting help. You can call us at  (316) 686-4713 if you suspect heatstroke.

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