Summer is here and that means climbing temperatures will be here to stay for a while. It is important during this time of year to stop for a moment and think about how to best take care of our animals during these extremely hot days. Since dogs and cats only sweat a very small amount primarily through the pads of their feet, they are very susceptible to high temperatures and can overheat easily! They depend on panting to eliminate excess heat, but when the temperatures outside get close to normal body temperature (100-103F), this mechanism does not work well and they can overheat very quickly.
With severe hyperthermia/heat stroke internal body temperature can rise rapidly up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit! Symptoms usually begin with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The tongue and gums will take on a bright red color and the saliva will become thick. If not quickly addressed, heat stroke can cause many serious problems. Sometimes these problems do not develop until hours after the episode. If you are suspicious that your animal may be suffering from heat stroke, it is important to seek medical care as quickly as possible! We suggest wetting their coat down or covering them with a wet towel during transport to begin the cooling process.
It is especially important to take steps to avoid this problem before it occurs. Dogs should never be left unattended in a car during the summer as temperatures can rapidly climb. Also make sure that they are never left outdoors without access to shade and plenty of fresh water. Even then, try to only let them out for a short period of time (15 minutes or less). It is particularly important to take special precaution with puppies, senior dogs, heavy coated breeds, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic (“flat faced”) breeds such as bulldogs and pugs.