How to Recognize Heat Stroke in Pets

By Species, By Topic, Care & Wellness, Cats, Dogs, Emergency Situations, Exotic

Pet ownership is a lifelong exercise in empathy. One of the most common opportunities owners can get at thinking about how their animals experience the world is by checking the weather. Especially in the summer. If the temperature stays above 90˚ F for a sustained stretch, with high humidity, it is incredibly important that you make sure your pet doesn’t succumb to heat stroke.

Animals exist much closer to the ground than humans. Because of this, they typically experience temperatures that are slightly warmer, because there is less breeze, and the heat is directly radiating off paved surfaces. Also, they can’t complain. It has the potential to cause serious, and in some cases life-threatening, conditions in our pets. Many pets that have developed heat-related conditions do so because their owners do not realize they have left their pet in the heat long enough to develop a condition.

This gets even worse if the pet is left unattended in the heat. The stress and anxiety of both being uncomfortable, and away from its beloved master may actually cause the heat stress to worsen. As the animal becomes more frantic, its internal body temperature continues to rise. If this higher internal body temperature is sustained for any length of time, irreversible damage can occur to body organs which, even with treatment, can have serious consequences.

Recognizing early that your pet may be experiencing a heat-related condition is critical to its long-term survival. Any disorientation, excessive panting that does not appear to be settling the dog down or excessive drooling should be addressed right away. Cooling your pet down immediately with a hose or other source of water is helpful but may not be enough to lower excessive internal body temperature. Bring your pet to your veterinarian immediately for further treatment.

PREVENTION is the real key to not having a problem in the first place. It is important to anticipate potential problems before they occur. Making sure adequate water supplies are available and providing additional water supplies when bowls get knocked over are good preventative measures. Better yet, keep pets indoors during the day and give them their walks either early in the morning or later in the evening.

If your pet is displaying signs of heat stroke, call CEDARCREST Animal Clinic immediately at 540-943-7577.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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