Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats
Working up a good sweat in the hot summer months may be good for you, but it can lead to heat stroke in your pet and kill your pet in a matter of minutes.
Heat stroke is a dangerous condition that takes the lives of many animals every year. Your pet's normal body temperature is 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
If it rises to 105 or 106 degrees, the pet is at risk for developing heat exhaustion. If the body temperature rises to 107 degrees, your pet has entered the dangerous zone of heat stroke.
With heat stroke, irreversible damage and death can occur.
Heat stroke is a condition arising from extremely high body temperature, which leads to nervous system abnormalities (such as lethargy, weakness, collapse or coma). Abnormally high body temperature (also called hyperthermia) develops after increased muscular activity with impaired ability to give off heat due to high heat and humidity or respiratory obstruction. Heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps can occur after exposure to extremely high environmental temperatures. These illnesses occur in all mammals and can be prevented by taking proper precautions.
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• Rapid panting
If your pet exhibits any of these signs, treat it as an emergency and call your veterinarian immediately. On the way to your veterinary hospital, you can cool your pet with we towels, spray with cool water from a hose or by providing ice chips for your pet to chew (providing he is conscious).
• Bright red tongue
• Red or pale gums
• Thick, sticky saliva
• Depression • Weakness
• Vomiting - sometimes with blood
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- Monitor outdoor temperature and minimize your pet's activity on hot, humid days.
- Remove the pet from the hot area immediately.
- Limit sun exposure during the hours of 11 AM to 3 PM on hot days.
- Walk or exercise your pet in the morning or evening.
- Keep your pet in a comfortable environment (air-conditioned room or partially open.
- Windows with a breeze) during extremely hot weather.
- NEVER leave your pet in a car (even with the windows partially rolled down) for any reason at any time.
- Leaving pets in a car during warm weather is the most common cause of heat stroke.
- Provide your pet with plenty of fresh water and plenty of shade. Take extra care with puppies and kittens.
- If possible, allow your pet to acclimate gradually to high temperatures. Heat illness is common in the spring when the animal has not had sufficient time to acclimate to the warmer temperatures.
- After traveling to a warmer climate, allow your pet several days to become acclimated before allowing any vigorous exercise.
- Make sure outside cats have access to shade.
- Allow your cat to have access to cooler areas of the house.