It’s hard to believe that summer is right around the corner! With the weather heating up, we all need to be more conscious about keeping out pets cool. In preparation for the hot summer months, we’ve provided a short overview of heat stroke. This will prepare you for signs to look for and things you can do to help your pet if you think he/she may be suffering from this condition.

Heat stroke is an acute, progressive, life threatening emergency characterized by a core body temperature of >106*F. It causes multi-organ dysfunction including changes in the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and integumentary systems. Heat stroke can occur quickly and the disease state can progress rapidly. It is extremely important to seek immediate medical care!

Signs to look for:

  • Excessive panting, drooling
  • Wobbly, drunken, or abnormal gait
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Bloody or tarry stool
  • Depression, decreased responsiveness, seizures

What to do:

  • Quickly remove your pet from the environment where the over-heating occurred into a shaded/cool place
  • Begin cooling efforts! Place cool wet towels or tap water along the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region.  You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water.  Directing a fan over these wetted areas will help to speed evaporative cooling.
  • Transport to the closest veterinary facility immediately!

Cooling your pet too aggressively or overcooling can also have significant adverse affects. Below are some guidelines to help prevent overcooling of your pet.

What not to do:

  • Do not use cold water, ice, or ice baths for cooling
  • Do not attempt to force water into your pet’s mouth, but you may have fresh cool water ready to offer should your pet be alert and show an interest in drinking.
  • Do not leave your pet unattended

Keeping pets indoors during peak hours is ideal. For pets kept outside, please be sure to provide cool, shaded areas and free access to water at all times. Never, ever leave pets in cars – even if the windows are open, temperatures inside the vehicle can climb rapidly. We hope you and your pets enjoy a safe and happy summer season!

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