Heat stroke is just as dangerous for pets as it is for us!
If you have ever experienced heat stroke, you know how frightening and potentially lethal it can be. Heat stroke is just as dangerous to our pets, so we need to be careful when warmer temperatures set in.
Imagine not being able to shed your winter clothes on a hot
summer day, and your only means of cooling off was by panting.
Dogs and cats have little choice when it comes to keeping cool in
summer heat. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke will allow for
prompt treatment. Time is of the essence when treating this
dangerous condition. Signs of heat stroke include
(but are not limited to):
It is wise to learn how to take your pet's temperature in the
event of an emergency.
Hot weather creates additional hazards for your pet. Unlike humans, animals can't change their wardrobe or turn on the air conditioning like humans do to keep comfortable. Using good common sense will help to prevent a heat-related pet emergency. Besides the obvious of providing shelter and shade, fresh water, and good grooming, here are some other things to remember to help keep your pet cool and healthy during extreme heat:
Just because your animal is cooled and "appears okay", DO NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc. are definitely affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess the current condition and any damage that may have been done. There is also a complex blood problem, called DIC (Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation) that can be a secondary complication to heat stroke that can be fatal.
If you have any questions about heatstroke in your pet or a pet you find locked in a parked car, please contact your veterinarian or local animal authorities immediately. This is a very time critical condition.
The color of the coat does make a difference in a couple of ways. First, just like humans wearing dark clothing, the effect of the heat will be more noticeable in the hot rays of the sun for dark-haired animals. The dark colors absorb the heat more than light colors, which reflect the heat away. For the record, ALL pets, regardless of coat color, should always have access to cool shade and fresh cool water in the summer heat and a dog house out in the sun doesn't count, as the temperatures inside can be even higher than outdoors even though they provide shade.
Coat color can also make a difference when thinking about the damaging effect of the sun's UV (ultraviolet) rays. Lighter-colored animals are much more prone to sunburn and skin cancer than their darker-colored companions. Cats, dogs, and horses that spend a lot of time in the sun and have a light colored coat or lack the black pigment around the eyes, ears, and nose, can get sunburned more easily and quickly. Cats in particular, love "sunbathing", as any cat lover knows! Long term effects of sun exposure may include skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
Remember heat stroke is deadly in a short amount of time! Hopefully you and your dog are staying cool in the summer heat!
Pet Assure is the largest veterinary network in the U.S. with over 5,600 veterinarians.