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Protecting Our Pets from Summer Heat

Temperatures during summer can be very dangerous to our pets. Because dogs can’t sweat, heat exhaustion can easily occur.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the dog’s body temperature becomes elevated. If the temperature rises above 103 degrees, your pet can be at risk of heat stroke. During a heat stroke, the organs shut down and the heart stops.

Dogs only have a few sweat glands in their paws. These do little to keep them cool, so they will pant. In the event of overheating, panting is not enough to cool them.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke

  • Excessive or exaggerated panting

  • Excessive drooling

  • Excessive thirst

  • Brick-red or blue-purple gums or tongue

  • Lethargy, staggering, collapse or seizures

  • Fever

  • Vomiting or bloody diarrhea

  • Rapid heartbeat / pulse

  • Unresponsive to commands or surroundings

  • Unconsciousness

  • Staring / anxious expression

  • Warm / dry skin

  • Elevated body temperature (104 degrees +)

By the time the signs of a heatstroke are visible, it is often too late! Head straight to your vet’s office if you think your pet has heatstroke. It could save their life.

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion

  1. Provide plenty of shade and water if your dog is outside.

  2. NEVER, EVER leave your dog in a hot car. A car can reach well over 120 degrees in minutes.

  3. If your pet needs exercise, take them for a swim or use a backyard sprinkler.

  4. If your dog has long hair, consider a haircut, but leave at least one inch to protect from sunburn.

  5. If you take walks, do it in the early morning or late evening. Hot pavement will burn their pads. Be sure to provide water and let them rest if they need a break.

  6. Provide plenty of fresh drinking water at all times.

If Your Pet Become Overheated

Be aware not just of high temperatures, but also high humidity can increase the chance of heat exhaustion. All dogs are at increased risk of overheating if they're not given adequate shade or a cool place to relax indoors.

  1. Immediately take your dog to a cooler spot. Indoors with air conditioning is best.

  2. Put your dog in the bath tub. Run a cool (not cold) shower over your pet, covering the whole body -- especially the back of the head and neck.

  3. If getting the dog into the tub is impractical, use a garden hose to cool the dog or place him in a pool of cool water.

  4. Apply a cold pack to the dog’s head to help lower his body temperature -- a packet of frozen vegetables works fine.

  5. Give cool water to drink. Do not force it. If he can’t drink, do NOT give ice cubes. It can cause shock if the pet is cooled too fast.

  6. Take your dog immediately to the vet.

Dogs More Prone to Overheating

  • Very young or old dogs

  • Dogs with short noses and flat faces – boxer, bulldogs, shih tzus, Cavalier King Charles

  • Overweight dogs or dogs with medical conditions

  • Dogs with thick or long hair

  • Working, hunting or extremely active dogs – spaniels, shepherds and retrievers

Knowing these facts will help keep your furry family member safe during the hot summer weather. Do your part, they depend on us.

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