Extreme heat can put our pets in real danger. Increased summer temperatures mean an increased danger of overheating. Heat exhaustion can be treated at home but heatstroke is serious in any animal and requires immediate emergency veterinary attention.
How do cats and dogs cool themselves?
Humans sweat to cool themselves; cats and dogs bodies aren’t as efficient. Cats and dogs pant to cool themselves and sweat very little. Panting is one of the primary ways canines cool off by releasing moisture from the lungs and mouth and working as a type of evaporative cooler. Also, blood vessels close to the surface in the face and ears will dilate allowing heat to dissipate into the air.
Exposure to extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion which can rapidly progress into heatstroke. Normally, animals protect themselves from the heat quite well, resting in a shady spot through most of the day’s hottest times but with extreme temperatures for long periods of time, sometimes that isn’t enough.
Symptoms such as restless behavior, excessive panting, vomiting, lethargy, staggering gait, drooling, red tongue or mouth, rapid breathing, rapid pulse, and high body temperature can indicate heat-related illness. If left untreated, heatstroke can cause seizures, coma, or be fatal to your cat or dog.
How to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Always remember, cats and dogs primarily pant rather than sweat. They are much more sensitive to heat than humans are. Like Humans, Air conditioning provides the greatest relief from the heat for your companion. When outside, provide a shaded area and keep lots of cool clean water available. Bring plenty of water with you when traveling in the car or on a walk, small sips frequently are best. Owners can also use a cool wet towel to put under their cat or dog to help them cool down but never put ice directly on their skin.
If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms but you are unsure if it is heat exhaustion or heat stroke, please call our office to discuss with our staff: 918-333-7286.