In the last two months, BluePearl hospitals have seen 13 animals who have died from heat-related diagnoses. Here’s what pet owners should know.
With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees in states around the country, many owners are taking precautions to keep their pets cool – like scheduling dog walks in the early morning and checking pavement temperatures before heading out. To help dogs beat the heat this summer, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital is offering tips for avoiding and recognizing heat stroke in dogs.
There are ways pet owners can prevent overheating from progressing to heatstroke, but they must know the signs, and act quickly,” said Dr. Kevin Kelley, Emergency Service Head at BluePearl. “Most often, heat stroke is caused when a pet is left in a confined space with little or no ventilation during periods of warm temperatures and high humidity. While this is the most common scenario we see, it can happen anywhere – even walking outdoors on a semi-hot day.”
Heatstroke is considered a pet emergency. If not treated, it can result in gastrointestinal upset, internal organs dysfunction, internal bleeding, infection, or in severe cases, death. Heatstroke occurs when a pets’ body mechanisms cannot keep their body’s temperature within a safe range. Pets are unable to sweat like humans, so the effects of heat are felt more quickly and strongly.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke in Dogs
Take these simple steps to prevent heatstroke during periods of warm weather:
- Never leave a pet in a hot car. Heatstroke can occur within minutes, even on a warm day.
- Ensure the pet has access to shade, ventilation, and water while outside on hot, sunny days. Bring pets inside or to a shaded area once outdoor temperatures reach 80 degrees and humidity of at least 90 percent.
- Create a cooling source while outside, such as a kiddie pool filled with cool water.
- Avoid exercising or walking your pet during peak temperature hours, and on especially hot or humid days. Pets should go for walks early in the morning when it is still cool outside.
- Trim hair short. Longer-haired pets can be given a shorter trim to help ventilate their skin.
- Know if your pet is high risk. Overweight and elderly pets, pets with cardiac or respiratory problems, and dogs with short noses like bulldogs, boxers and pugs, are heat sensitive. Take extra precautions if your pet falls in one of these categories.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Pets can easily suffer from heatstroke. The signs of heatstroke can include:
- Uncontrollable panting
- Foaming at the mouth
- Loss of consciousness (or sudden collapse)
- Tongue and gums that turn from bright red to blue to gray
- Capillary refill time of more than two seconds
What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is extremely dangerous, but it is also preventable,” said Dr. Kelley. “If you notice your pet is panting heavily, lethargic, or uncoordinated, get them cool quickly. But remember: Even if you cool your pet down, they still may need veterinary care and possibly medication.”
Here are a few immediate things you can do if you suspect your dog is overheating:
- Run cool water over the pet with a water bottle or hose or put them in a cool tub.
- Wrap damp, cool towels around the dog.
- Make water available but do not force your pet to drink. Also, never give sports drinks or electrolyte supplements to pets. These can be harmful for pets.
- If your pet is panting uncontrollably or collapses, immediately take them to an emergency veterinary hospital.
Ways to Help Your Dog Beat the Heat
- Hose down hot pavement, patios, and porches. A little water can help keep paws cool and avoid paw pad burns.
- Add ice to water. Ice cubes will help keep the water cool for a longer period.
- Cool the crate. If your pet is crated while you are away, keep a fan on to ventilate the crate and keep your pet cool.
- Dress them in a cold compress. A refrigerated wet bandana may help keep your pet cool as temperature receptors are located around dogs’ necks.
- Get a kiddy pool. A kiddy pool is a terrific way for pets and people to stay cool.
Remember: The effects of heatstroke are often subtle and not immediately apparent. Bring your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital for treatment if you believe your pet is overheating or having heatstroke.