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Keep Your Pet Safe in the Heat

Aug 11, 2017


Summer is full of sunshine, long days, and plenty of fun. Here in Virginia, it’s also full of extreme heat and humidity, which means pets, just like humans, are at high risk for dehydration and heat stroke.

Because they pant instead of sweat, pets can’t cool their bodies as efficiently as we do. So when temperatures climb and humidity levels are high, their internal body temperatures can get to dangerous levels fast. 

How dangerous? Without intervention, death can occur rapidly. Click here to read how quick thinking and intensive veterinary care saved the life of a 2-year-old Labrador with heat stroke. 

Warning Signs of Overheating

Keep a sharp eye out for signs that your pet has become heat-stressed. If you notice any of these symptoms, get out of the heat and get them to the vet immediately. 

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Deep red or purple tongue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Heavy panting
  • Increased heart and respiration rate
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Is Your Pet at a Higher Risk for Overheating?

Some animals are at an increased risk of overheating, including older or overweight pets, brachycephalic (short- or broad-headed) breeds such as pugs, boxers, and Persian cats, and pets with heart or lung disease. Even in otherwise healthy animals, exercise can trigger heat stroke in as quickly as 30 minutes, even in shade with plenty of access to water.

Additional Hot Weather Safety Tips

  • Never leave pets in a car on a warm day. Even on a 70-degree day in the shade with the windows cracked, heat builds up extremely quickly in a car.
  • Don’t exercise your pet during the peak heat of the day.
  • Provide plenty of extra water and make sure your pet has shade.
  • “High-Rise Syndrome”—a cat falling from a great height leading to injury or death—increases in summer. Make sure pets sitting near open windows are behind a tightly secured screen.
  • Asphalt gets extremely hot and can burn paws. If it’s too hot for the palm of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet.
  • Teach dogs and cats to get out of swimming pools safely to avoid drowning. For more information, check out our blog post on swim safety for dogs

We hope you have a happy and healthy summertime filled with fun!

As a reminder, if necessary, The COVE is open 24/7/365 with a team of highly skilled and compassionate emergency clinicians at the ready.

Category: Pet Health Tips