Pet Care Tips

Summer is here - Heat related illness

Summer is here and with the onset of triple digit days it is important to keep in mind the safety of our four legged friends. The following are frequently asked questions concerning heat related illness in our companion animals:

3. What are the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion will begin as intense panting. The tongue will take on a wide flat shape and be lolling out of the animals’ mouth appearing much larger than normal. The animal may be reluctant to rise and could even begin to seem a bit disoriented or dizzy. Their body temperature may rise to 105-107 degrees and begin to affect their thought processes. Vomiting can occur as can “fainting” or brief moments of unconsciousness.

4. What are the symptoms of heat stroke?

Heat stroke is the next stage of heat illness. You may have seen the symptoms listed above but not known what they were or you may have missed them entirely. At the stage of heat stroke, your pet’s life is in danger. Diarrhea and vomiting are common. You may no longer see the pet panting but their gums and tongue may be dry and very red. They may or may not be conscious but they certainly won’t be acting like themselves. Seizures can occur at this stage and are a sure sign that damage has already begun in the brain. An animal’s temperature can reach up to 109 or 110 degrees.

5. What do I do if I see signs of heat exhaustion?

If you see the above signs of heat exhaustion in your pet, immediately get them somewhere cool and physically stop their activity! Dogs sometimes, like humans, get so excited by being in a new place or doing something new that they do not realize they have overdone it until it is too late. Shade or better yet air conditioning is imperative to reversing the rising temperature.  Get the animal wet especially around the throat and belly. Running water is better as a bathtub or pond does not always circulate new cool water around the animal’s body. Let them drink water. Monitor their body temperature with a thermometer if possible. Once the temp is down to 103, stop the cooling process! It is possible to overcool the animal and give them hypothermia if you cool their temp back to normal. Even if the animal seems to recover well it is important to see a veterinarian in case low levels of dehydration are still present. Even small levels of heat exhaustion or stroke can cause kidney damage without proper hydration.
If you see signs of heat stroke, seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY! Begin cooling on the drive but do not spend time to accomplish it. Immediate fluid therapy and cooling is necessary to save their life.

The summer provides many opportunities for you and your pet to get away and explore. Remember to pack for safety if taking your pup with you. But if you are running to the store or out to eat, leave the pets at home where they will be safe.

- Hot Weather Tips
- Water Safety

General Care

Allergies in Pets!
Moving With Your Pet
Pet Theft Prevention
Preparing Your Pet For Baby's Arrival
Successful Cleaning to Remove Pet Odors and Stains
To Spay or Neuter
Travel Tips
Territorial Marking Behavior In Dogs And Cats
Unusual Eating Habits In Dogs And Cats
Vaccination Guidelines
Quality of Life to the End of Life (By Alice E. Villalobos, D.V.M., DPNAP)

All Pet Care Tips (PDF files only unless otherwise indicated) are Copyright 2000, to Denver Dumb Friends League and Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.