Beating Heatstroke in Pets

A tan and white dog on the grass

Summer may be winding down, but in our neck of the woods the heat is far from over. High temperatures will continue for weeks, if not months, and keeping our pets (and ourselves) protected from heat-related dangers should remain a top priority.

Because pets don’t regulate their internal temperature as efficiently as humans (think panting compared to sweating), heatstroke is a serious concern during the summer months. Your Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital team wants you to be able to spot the signs of heatstroke in pets, know how to help your pet, and, most importantly, prevent the condition in the first place.

Signs of a Problem

Panting and a small amount of sweat released through the paw pads is how pets deal with a build-up of heat in the body. When the pet’s environment doesn’t allow the heat to be released, heatstroke occurs. Left untreated, heatstroke can quickly lead to organ failure and death.

The common signs of heat stroke in pets are as follows:

  • Excessive panting/salivating
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Bright red, purple, or pale gums or tongue
  • Vomiting/diarrhea

Treating Heatstroke in Pets

Heatstroke in pets is life-threatening, and should be considered a medical emergency. If you notice any of the above signs of heatstroke in your pet, take action to cool them down immediately. 

  • Get your pet out of direct sun and into the shade or, better yet, bring them indoors with the air conditioning or fans running.
  • Soak some towels with room temperature water and drape them over your pet’s belly and groin area. Don’t use cold or cool water, as this could bring your pet’s body temperature down too quickly, causing shock.
  • Even if your pet seems to be feeling better, don’t delay seeking emergency medical attention. Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is open extended hours and weekends to meet our patients’ emergency needs. Outside of regular business hours, please see our website for the nearest emergency veterinary hospitals.
  • If possible, call ahead to let the team know you will be bringing your pet in. That way, everything can be ready to treat your pet’s heatstroke right away.

Prevent, Prevent, Prevent

The most common cause of heatstroke in pets occurs when they are left in parked vehicles. Even in cars parked in the shade with the windows cracked, the temperature can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. 

Even on a 70-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach triple digits in 30 minutes. Never assume it’s ok to leave your pet inside a parked car – they are better off staying home!

Other ways to protect your pet from the devastating effects of heatstroke include:

  • Keep them inside with the A/C on or fans running during the hottest times of day.
  • Make sure they have access to fresh, cool water and plenty of shade at all times while outdoors.
  • Limit outdoor exercise to morning and evening hours. Stop for plenty of water breaks in the shade anytime you’re outdoors with your pet.
  • Pay close attention to senior pets, very young pets, and brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds. These pets are at an increased risk of overheating.

Please contact our staff for more information regarding heatstroke in pets. Have a safe, fun, and cool remainder of your summer!

posted in:  For The Dogs  |  Pet Safety  |  The Great Outdoors