Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke in Pets

Happy Monday! We hope that you and your pets enjoyed your holiday weekend. With the country reporting record high temperatures, the staff at Anza Animal Clinic wanted to share some information on heat exhaustion and heatstroke so that we can help to keep your pets safe and healthy during this extremely hot weather.

Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s body temperature climbs over the normal range of 100-102.2°F. Because our pets cannot sweat to cool down like we do, they are especially at risk of developing heat exhaustion and heatstroke as temperatures climb. Instead, pets release excess heat by panting which helps cool down their body temperature as moisture evaporates from their oral cavity. When the temperatures get hotter, it becomes more difficult for our pets to cool themselves down by panting alone, and sometimes is becomes necessary for us to help them cool down safely.

How do I know if my pet is suffering from heatstroke?

The following symptoms could indicate that your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion:
• Excessive drooling
• Excessive panting
• Difficulty breathing
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea (with or without blood)
• Weakness
• Stumbling or lack of coordination
• Sudden collapse
• Seizures

Once your pet begins to overheat, heatstroke can progress very quickly. It is important to intervene right away if you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

What should I do if I suspect that my pet is suffering from heatstroke?

1. Immediately bring your pet inside or to a cooler, shaded area. If it is humid outside, it is best to bring your pet into a cooler, well-ventilated area.
2. If possible, take your pet’s rectal temperature. If it is above 102.2°F, cover your pet in a towel soaked in lukewarm water. It is important not to use cold water as rapid temperature changes could have a dangerous effect on your pet’s blood pressure.
3. Wipe rubbing alcohol on your pet’s paw pads. Aside from panting, pets also release heat from their bodies through their paw pads.
4. Your pet’s temperature should begin to decrease and show signs of improvement within 10 minutes.

If you don’t notice your pet’s symptoms improving within 10 minutes, take them immediately to your veterinarian.

Image from AAHA

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