It’s summer once again and the hot days can bring up the temperature of dogs and cats to a dangerous level. They can suffer from heat stroke if they are not protected from the heat.
It is important that we know what to do to prevent heat stroke in pets because it can lead to brain damage, organ failure and death. When your pet’s internal temperature reaches a dangerously high level, about 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, a chemical reaction will occur that will break down the cells in your pet’s body.
Heat stroke can occur when your pet is
1. locked in a hot car,
2. over-exercised in a hot or humid environment,
3. kept in a cage or tied to a post under the sun or the cage has no (roof) insulation, or kept in a hot place like the garage, or
4. not provided fresh water very 2 hours at least,or your pet does not drink enough water.
Signs of heat stroke in dogs and cats
Here are the signs of heat stroke in dogs, according to Dr. Phil Zeltzman in “Summer Safety: Tips From The Vet For Preventing Heat Stroke In Dogs” in dogtime.com:
1. Body temperature can reach 40 -43.3 degrees (104-110 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Heavy panting
3. Rapid pulse or heartbeat
4. Bright or dark red gums and tongue
5. Excessive thirst
6. Excessive drooling
8. Lack of coordination, staggering
10. Glazed eyes
11. Bloody diarrhea
These are the same signs to look out for in cats.
When you see one or two of these signs, do cooling measures and then bring your dog to the vet for immediate medical attention.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, Zeltzman suggested that you do the following before driving to the vet:
1. Lower the body temperature immediately by moving the pet to a cool area.
2. Wet your pet with cool water, not ice-cold water. Ice-cold water can worsen things.
3. Use a fan to cool down the pet.
4. If your pet can still drink water, offer small amounts or ice cubes.
“Cooling procedures should begin before driving to the vet. Call your vet or an emergency clinic, and take your pet there as quickly and safely as possible. It’s important to call the clinic ahead of time so that the staff can be prepared by the time you arrive,” Zeltzman stressed.
Reminder: Stop cooling measures when your pet’s temperature is already 39.44 degrees Cesius (103 degrees Fahrenheit). Your pet will become too cold if you will continue the cooling measures which is also bad for pets.
“At the vet, similar measures will be taken. In addition, the vet will give your dog lots of IV fluids,” Zeltzman said.
How to prevent heat stroke
Here are ways to prevent heat stroke:
1. Keep pets inside the house during hot, humid days.
2. Give fresh water all the time. Change the water in bowls every two hours at least.
3. If dogs are outside the house, provide plenty of shade.
4. Put bowls with water in different places.
5. Add ice cubes to the water bowl to keep the water cooler for a longer period of time.
6. Bathe dogs weekly or even twice a week.
7. Bathe cats once a week.
8. Have your dog groomed, specially dogs with too much fur as fur will keep the heat in.
9. Let your pet play in a kiddie pool or let your pet play with a basin of water.
10. Plan ahead to make sure there are areas with shade.
11. Give cooling food like watermelon without the seeds and hard outer part, singkamas without the skin, cucumber without the seeds and skin, and lettuce like romaine lettuce.
Give more food that have more moisture like canned food so that the pet is hydrated, or more water like boiled meat and veggies with the broth. The more water intake, the better for the pet.
12. Do not leave your dog inside a car without aircon and alone.
“Leaving the windows partially rolled down will not help. Have you ever noticed how hot it can get inside your car on a summer day, even though it is not that hot outside? That’s because a car acts like a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat, “ Zaltzman said.
“A Stanford University test found that even if it’s only 72 degrees outside, a car’s internal temperature can rocket to 116 degrees within an hour. When it’s 85 degrees, the temperature inside the car increases to 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and 120 degrees in 20 minutes,” Zeltzman added.
13. Outdoor activity should be in the early morning and late evening, when temperatures are somewhat lower. Bring water all the time when walking the dog, but lessen the length of time for walking.
“Notice any heavy panting, loss of energy, weakness, stumbling, or any of the signs listed above. If your pet seems to suffer from the heat, stop in a shaded area and give some fresh water. If things don’t improve quickly, take your pet to your vet,” Zeltzman said.