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Summer and Heat Stroke in Pets

two dogs on beach towel sand sun summerNow that summer and the heat that accompanies summer are in full swing, it’s especially important to keep our pets in mind. While most pet owners are aware of the dangers of leaving pets in the car on a hot day, we may forget about other heat-related hazards.

  • Asphalt and sidewalks: Paved ground absorbs heat throughout the day, making it hot enough to fry an egg in some locations! Protect your pet’s paws by only walking him in the morning and late evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day. When venturing out during the peak heat, opt for grass and dirt surfaces.
  • Dehydration: Your dog or cat needs plenty of water on warmer days. Dogs pant to cool down which means they are losing water faster than usual, so be sure to keep plenty of fresh water available. This is especially key to remember for dogs that are swimming in salt water beaches and may drink some of the water!
  • Sunburn: Most pets are generally safe from sunburns provided that they don’t spend extended periods of time in direct sunlight. However, those with light colored noses and skin and thin coats are especially susceptible to sunburn. Try to keep your pet out of the sun as much as possible or consult your veterinarian for pet-safe sunblock.
  • Overheating: Hanging out at outdoor festivals, parks, or beaches all day with your dog is fun. But while the heat may feel hot to you, it can be deadly to your pet. Dogs with flat faces (Boston terriers, bulldogs, etc.) are especially prone to overheating because they cannot cool down as sufficiently as their long-snouted friends. On hot summer days, pets should be left where they can stay cool.

One particular recent pet insurance claim caught my eye which inspired this blog post. This 2-year-old pit bull-mix suffered from heat stroke and left the vet with a bill for over $2,000. Dogs cannot cool down as easily as humans so summertime is a threat of heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke: Heavy panting and bright red tongue, weakness, fatigue, rapid heart rate, vomiting. The saliva will be thick and sticky due to dehydration. When shock sets in, the pet may experience seizures and collapse which can be fatal.

Treatment: Pets showing signs of heatstroke should be cooled down as soon as possible. Get them out of the heat and into a shady/air conditioned area or somewhere with a fan. Lay damp towel soaked with cool (not cold) water over your pet’s head or on their belly. Provide water. Seek veterinary care– even if your pet seems to have cooled down, it is important to get him/her to your veterinarian.

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