Dogs can’t sweat. They pant to cool themselves off, but it’s not the most efficient system. Another risk for dogs is that they’re generally eager to please their owners and will not stop playing or even indicate that something is wrong until it is too late and heatstroke is a fact.
When it comes to cats and dogs, the pets most susceptible to heatstroke include:
- Pugs, Bulldogs, and other short snout dog breeds
- Persians and other cats with flat faces
- Sick and elderly pets
- Cats and dogs with heart conditions
- Dogs who exercise in hot weather
- Dogs who have airway problems or snore
- Overweight pets
- Cats and dogs who recently relocated to a hotter climate
- Any pet who has had a heatstroke before. They are at higher risk of getting it again.
Heatstroke is a real problem. It can lead to kidney failure, liver failure, brain damage, swelling of airways, lung damage, seizures, muscle damage, bleeding disorders, and even death.
Make sure your pets have access to a cool area. If you don’t have AC, use fans to increase the circulation in the house. Always make sure your pets have access to cool water.
Pet doors allow cats and dogs to come back inside when they want to. An energy efficient dog door or cat door such as the PlexiDor dog doors and cat doors will ensure that the heat stays outside.
Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- A blank stare or anxious expression
- Heavy panting and possible raspy breath
- Bright red gums
- Throwing up
- Stumbling, falling, or collapsing
- Elevated temperature
- Lying flat on cool surfaces
- Pet’s skin feels warmer than normal
If your pet shows any signs of heatstroke, hose them down so their panting slows. Small animals can be sprayed with a spray bottle of water set at a fine mist. The water helps prevent the body temperature from raising further.
Call the vet. Heatstroke is serious and this is not a time to apply a wait-and-see approach.
When you go to the vet, keep the AC on in the car to keep the pet as cool as possible. If you don’t have air-conditioning, make sure to keep the windows down. Just watch the pet so they don’t jump out of the car!
At the vet, treatment can include intravenous fluids, blood tests, and oxygen. Severe cases of heatstroke require hospitalization up to ten days.