With summer in full swing, now more than ever you need to protect yourself from sunburn and overheating. Don’t forget to include your pets too! Just like their owners, cats and dogs can become overheated if you’re not careful, as they show that they’re overheated and in need of care in slightly different ways.
If you’re not too sure about the hazards of hot weather for pets, read on! Here are some signs of heat-related problems in pets, some pet care tips you can apply for less serious situations, and how to tell it’s time to bring your overheated pet to a veterinarian.
There are two common heat-related illnesses that can harm pets during these hot summer months:
- Heat exhaustion (hyperthermia) – not to be confused with hypothermia, which involves being too cold. Hyperthermia, or heat exhaustion, can happen if your pet runs around too much under direct sunlight. Dehydration is another way to describe heat exhaustion since they both involve being overheated and thirsty.
- Heatstroke – heatstroke is far more dangerous than hyperthermia, with long-term effects such as brain damage and other organ damage taking place. This is why we are determined as a local vet office to highly discourage leaving your pets alone in a hot, locked car, because heatstroke is often the result of doing so.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke
If left out in the sun too long, both cats and dogs will exhibit the following signs of overheating:
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Excessive panting and difficulty breathing
- Bright red gums
Basically, if you’re feeling thirsty, then it’s likely your pet is also overheated and needs to be given prompt attention. Some cats may not be outside as often as dogs are, but they too can only sweat through their paw’s glands and with their fur it’s tougher for them to cool off. Preventative care against the heat should be given to both indoor and outdoor cats.
What to Do at Home
More often than not it’s easy to tell if a pet’s getting too hot, and heatstroke and heat exhaustion are both easily preventable. Pet care at home for preventing overheating can include the following:
- Give your pets easy access to their water bowls and always ensure their water is clean.
- If you must bring your pets with you on your travels, bring bottles of water and their water bowls so they can have a drink while you’re travelling.
- Make sure they have a cool place to retreat in at home where the air conditioning is switched on.
- Provide easy shading from the sun in any outdoors areas as well so they can rest.
- Keep your dog walks short and brisk, and give them water afterwards.
When to Go to Your Vet Office
If left alone and untreated, heatstroke and heat exhaustion will cause the following extreme symptoms in your pet:
- Vomiting, with traces of blood (sometimes)
- Diarrhea, with traces of blood (sometimes)
Should you see any one or more of these signs in your pet, call your veterinarian office and bring them in for emergency treatment. On your way to the office, try and help cool off your overheated pet with lukewarm water (not freezing cold, as this may shock their body to the point where it hurts them more!) using a damp cloth or towel. Gently apply the wet cloth to their paw pads and nose on your way to the office.
Keeping the heat off both you and your pets will ensure you both have a safe and happy summer!
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