Summer is in full swing and that means ice cream, days at the beach, and lots of fun outdoors. But the summer heat can pose serious risk to our furry friends. Animals can be prone to heat stroke if not kept at a cool temperature. Heat stroke can be potentially fatal but can be prevented. It affects virtually all of the organs, especially the brain, kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal tract. Heat stroke occurs when an animal is not able to regulate its body temperature due to high environmental temperatures or overexertion. Certain medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, seizure disorders, laryngeal paralysis and other respiratory disorders can all increase the risk as well. Breeds that have a short nose or “squished” face are also at higher risk. Heat stroke can be easily prevented by following these tips:
NEVER allow your pet in the car without the air conditioner going. Air temperatures inside cars can quickly rise during these hot days, even with the windows partially down.
Always have plenty of fresh cool water available.
If your pets must be kept outside, make sure they are able to find shade at all times. Do not rely on a covered dog house to provide shade; they can become just as hot as cars with no air flow.
Walk dogs during the cooler parts of the day, usually morning or evening.
If your pet does get overheated, DO NOT use ice or freezing water to cool them off. This will make peripheral blood vessels constrict, causing the core body temperature to remain elevated. You can use cool or tepid water on the skin and coat. Place your pet in front of a fan, not an air conditioner, and provide cool water. Put the pet in the coolest or shadiest area available. Seek veterinary attention immediately if you think your pet is overheating, especially if your pet is having difficulty breathing, not responding to you, or is unable to stand or walk. Excessive salivation, vomiting or diarrhea after exercise can be other signs that your pet is overheating.
Contact your veterinarian for more information on summer care tips for you pets.