Rock Island Animal Hospital Pet Tip of the Month
Keep Your Pet Cool During the Summer Months
During the summer months as temperatures rise, owners need to pay close attention to their pets to make sure they do not get too hot. A spike in a pet's body temperature can lead to heat stroke, which can bring about irreversible damage or even death. As a pet owner, you should know what heat stroke is and how to prevent it.
When humans get get too hot, we sweat, which cools us off as it evaporates. Dogs and cats only sweat from their paws, which does not keep them cool enough by itself. Instead, they pant, whichbrings cooler air over the mucus membranes of tongue, throat and trachea. They also dissipate heat through dilation of the blood vessels near the surface of the skin of the face, ears and feet. If these cooling mechanisms are overwhelmed, hyperthermia and heat stroke can set in.
What can you do to prevent heat stroke? First and foremost, always provided your pet with plenty of fresh, cool water. A misconception believed by many pet owners is that they can can leave a pet in their car on a summer day, as long as the windows are open. This can be a terrible mistake. Even with the windows partially opened, the temperature inside the car can reach 160 degrees in a matter of minutes. Parking in the shade won't help either. Also, even with plenty of water, a dog can be come overheated exercising on a hot, humid day. Some animals in general are more at risk for heat strokes than others. Examples include: animals with thick coats, ones with heart and lung problems, overweight pets, puppies and kittens under 6 months of age, large dogs over the age of 7, small dogs and cats over 14 years, and breeds of dogs with short muzzles and wide heads, such as pugs, English bulldogs and Boston terriers.
How can you tell if your pet maybe suffering from heat stroke? The animal will most likely be panting hard and feel warm, and also may seem lethargic, unresponsive or disorientated. The gums, tongue and eyes may appear bright red, and vomitting can occur. During a heat stroke, the animal will seizure, which could be fatal if not treated soon enough.
If you believe your pet could be experiencing a heat stroke, call a veterinarian immediately. On the way to the veterinary hospital, you can begin cooling your dog with wet towels, misting with cold water, or allowing them to chew on ice cubes. This will assist your veterinarian in stabalizing your pet.