Summer is filled with fun activities for you and your furry friends, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad. Just like humans, pets can suffer from overexposure to extreme temperatures. Let’s make this a safe and refreshing summer for our pets. Fight the summer heat by preventing and recognizing dehydration and heatstroke in your pet.
Don’t let the heat take away the fun out of your pet’s summer. Our vets can be reached for emergencies outside of our regular hours.
How Your Pet Releases Heat
Dogs and cats don’t release heat the same way we do. While we sweat and expend heat through evaporation, pets only have a few sweat glands in their paw pads. So, they pant and produce saliva.
Dogs pant to release heat and lower their body temperature, and cats lick themselves to release heat through the saliva that is evaporated. Panting and saliva evaporation are two efficient and effective processes that allow dogs and cats to stay cool as long as they have access to plenty of fresh water.
Dehydration and Heat Signs
Dehydration happens when your pet does not have sufficient water in their body. If your pet is experiencing dehydration, general symptoms include sticky and dry gums as well as lethargy. Gently lifting the skin of your pet’s neck or the area between the shoulder blades can help you tell if they may be dehydrated. If your pet is properly hydrated, the skin should return to its normal position immediately. This condition is easily preventable given proper precautionary measures.
Heatstroke is a much more serious condition that occurs when an animal cannot withstand excessive external heat, often a result of long exposure to high temperatures. This non-fever hyperthermia results in the following symptoms:
- Heavy panting
- Pale gums or bright red tongue
- Thick and excessive saliva production
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased heart rate
These conditions can lead to collapse, multiple organ dysfunction, coma and even death in some cases. Pets in their geriatric years and those with short noses are more prone to heat-related problems because they can’t dissipate heat at a normal rate.
Stay in the Shade
It seems there’s no escape from the summer sun, and for outdoor pets, that could be a dangerous condition. Pets can get dehydrated quickly and access to fresh water is not always enough to keep them from suffering heatstroke. Make sure your pets have easy access to a shaded area that is out of the sun.
Simply keeping your pet in an area that is shaded and ventilated with plenty of fresh water can go a long way to preventing damage from the sun. Never leave your pet in a parked vehicle without the air conditioner running and avoid exercising during peak sun hours. Recognizing the signs of dehydration and heatstroke can also prevent serious damage to your pet’s health.