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Heat Stroke and Your Pet
Here in the Houston area, we know when it is the “Dog Days of Summer”. Around May 21st, the temperature finally reaches 90+ degrees and locks us in for the rest of summer. When temperatures approach the normal human body temperature of 98.6 degrees, we must regulate our internal temperature and get rid of the excess heat our bodies generate. To do this, people sweat causing a cooling effect. But unlike humans, dogs and cats do not sweat. They must pant in order to expel the excess heat through their mouth, thus making it much easier for them to suffer heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a major concern for owners of pets that are left outside for prolonged periods of time during the summer. If you are unable to keep your pet inside during the day, there are some things you can do to protect your pet:
- Leave PLENTY of water. The number one pet priority for hot summer months is cool, clean water and lots of it. You may want to provide several different bowls of water in areas of shade that your pet can drink from, stand in or splash around in to cool off.. Keep water bowls, kiddie pools and other containers in shaded areas and be sure to replace the water frequently.
- Provide shaded areas. Shaded areas can provide your pet a place to rest out of the direct heat of the sun. These types of areas can be shade trees, patio tables, dog houses that face a breeze, etc. Many pet stores now offer a line of pet supplies aimed at cooling your pet. For example, there is a small mister that can be attached to the front of the dog house or to the edge of a table to gently mist your pet to help them cool off. There are also chilled pads that will stay at approximately 70 degrees for a few days.
- If you must leave your dog outside during the heat this summer, chances are they will dig. They are digging to create a cool place to lay down. This may not be something that is pleasing to you, but do not scold your dog for this behavior. You would be doing the same thing in 100 degrees with a fur coat on.
- It is a good idea to hose down the dog before work, at lunch or whenever you can to provide extra cooling (if your dog is not over heated in the first place).
- If you leave your garage, shed or other areas open during for your cat to get out of the sun, make sure that there is no way for them to get trapped inside. Many times the heat in these areas get just as hot as a sealed car, if not hotter.
If you are concerned that your pet may be experiencing heat stress or a heat stroke, here are some warning signs:
- body temperatures of 104-110F degrees
- flushed gums
- constant panting
- bloody diarrhea
If your pet exhibits these symptoms or any symptom that suggests heat stroke, contact your vet IMMEDIATELY and then begin cooling your pet down. Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. Cooling your pet down can be done by hosing the pet down, taking the dog into a shower or bath or applying soaked towels. Ice packs can also be used around the pet’s head and neck area. Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your Veterinarian. Just because your animal is cooled and appears ok, do not assume they are fine. Just like you, your pets internal organs are affected by body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this.
In The Car
Leaving your pet in the car for just a minute during late spring, summer and early fall can be fatal. A 70-80 degree day can heat up the interior of a car to 120-130 degrees in less than 30 minutes even with the windows cracked or open. With that in mind, think of how it can get on those 90-110 degree days we often see in Houston. Caution also needs to be taken when transporting dogs in the back of pick-ups, the metal beds and those lined with black bed-liners can cause sever burns on the animals feet. If you store the your pets crate in the bed of your truck for travel, the heat from the bed alone can warm the crate up to the same temperatures as the inside of a closed car.
In The Park
Also keep in mind that although you can adjust to summer temperatures in order to continue your spring activites, your pet can not. Most dogs are still jogging in their winter coat and can only cool themselves by panting and sweating a small amount through their foot pads. This is not enough to keep them at normal temperatures. Change your routine to early morning or late evening to prevent your pet from suffering heat stroke. In hot weather, even walks should be kept to a minimum. With dogs bodies being so low to the ground, the hot asphalt can make their bodies can heat up quickly.
So, in other words, use common sense this summer when it comes to your pet and heat. Put yourself in their shoes and both of you will be happy.
Houston Dog Parks
Houston Dog Parks are public parks designated and built specifically for your friendly dog to be able to socialize and exercise safely and off-leash. No aggressive animals please.
There are so many links for you to research these days, and gather information regarding holistic herbs to help your sick furry friends. I though it would just be easier to give you a link that is always on top of current information. I hope you find this holistic website helpful as we have at the shelter.