Warm Weather and Dogs and Cats

Summer is approaching, and we all can say that it is a beautiful sight, but what does it have to say for our pets?

It means more time outside, more walks, and more sunbathing, but it also means a higher risk for heatstroke.

The main concern when the weather gets warm is heat exhaustion and/or heatstroke in our dogs and cats. Heat stroke is a serious condition in our pets and is a medical emergency when it happens. Unlike us humans, instead of sweating, dogs eliminate heat by panting. They do have some sweat glands in the footpads, which help with trying to eliminate the excessive heat, but only minimally. When panting isn’t enough to cool down the body, a dog’s body temperature rises. It can be fatal if not corrected quickly.

Some dogs and cats are more prone to experiencing this condition. These dogs and cats include being overweight, are thick-furred, older pets, pets with pre-existing conditions, which can include laryngeal paralysis, respiratory issues, heart disease, and our brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic breeds include Persians, Pugs, Bulldogs, and any dog or cat with a flatter face. You can also include the working dogs in this category.

Signs of Heatstroke/Heat Exhaustion are as follows:

  • Unable or unwilling to move around.
  • Excessive panting.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Reddened gums and tongue.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mental dullness or seems to be very anxious and unaware of their surroundings.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Uncoordinated movement.
  • Collapse.
  • Death.

What to do if you think your dog has heat stroke?

  • Call the closest emergency clinic/veterinary practice near you and tell them what is going on and that you are on your way. Please let the veterinary clinic know where you are and how far out you are.
  • Follow the orders of the veterinarian or veterinarian technician on the phone. If you are far out, they might give you some information that you should either do or watch out for during your travels to the clinic.
  • Do not put your dog in the tub or spray very cold water on him/her, please use cool water (not freezing), soak a towel and drip it all over the dog. You can also use a bucket to pour water on the dog slowly.
  • Do not submerge your dogs head in the water or pour water on their head. Keep the head elevated to prevent aspiration of the water.
  • On the way to the veterinarian, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.
  • Keep calm. Like stated before, immediate veterinary attention is critical for your dogs or cats life when it comes to heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and abnormal clotting of blood and can be fatal if left untreated.

Heatstroke in dogs and cats can be prevented. Please caution when exposing your dog and/or cats to hot and humid conditions. Make sure that your dog and cat have good ventilation, has access to shade
and lots of water. If it is to hot for them to be outside, then please keep them indoors where they can be cool and comfortable throughout the hot days.

Please do not leave your pets locked in a car, a sunroom, an enclosed space, or somewhere that will trap the heat in. Even if they are not outside and cannot get somewhere that they can cool themselves down, they can develop this condition.

Written by: Morinville Animal Clinic