Heat Stroke

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For The Love of Animals

The heat of summer can be a very dangerous time for animals, especially those being kept outside. By following a few steps, you can help make the heat more bearable for your pet.

    Caged animals:
  • Put a tightly sealed frozen water bottle wrapped in a towel inside the cage. This can give your pet a place to cool off by laying against it, plus allows them to move away if they get too cold.
  • Use a small fan facing away from the cage if you don't have air conditioning.
  • Add additional water bottles or bowls of water.
  • Bricks or ceramic tiles can provide a cool spot for your caged pet to lay on.
  • Move aquariums and cages that are near windows or keep the curtains drawn as any sun shining through the glass may be hot enough to harm pets.
  • Watch that cages in the shade during the morning might be exposed to the hot afternoon sun as the shade moves.

    Avoiding heatstroke:
  • Avoid excessive exercise during hot days and try to limit outings to early morning when the sun isn't as strong and evenings when it is cooler.
  • Be especially careful with dogs that have short, pushed-in faces (e.g., bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers), puppies and elderly pets.
  • Provide plenty of water and even ice cubes. Make sure water bowls are the heavy kind so they cannot tip over easily.
  • Leave water bowls in the shade to keep it from overheating and evaporating. Freeze water in small containers to make an extra large ice cube to help keep the water cold and last longer. Wash the bowl out daily to prevent bacteria and algae from growing which can contaminate your pet's water.
  • You can soak a bandanna in water and let it cool in the refrigerator before putting it around your dog's neck.
  • Keep a shady area available for pets to lie in while outside. If you don't have trees, invest in a doghouse. If your dog is kept outside on a leash, make sure there is nothing that the chain can get wrapped around which could prevent your dog from accessing the water bowl and shelter.
  • Another idea is to install a pet door so your pet can choose to come in on his own.
  • Plants along your fence line will give cats a nice shady spot to hide in.
  • Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle, they can very quickly over-heat and die. A vehicle left with the windows closed or even partially open can quickly become like an oven and your pet would never have a chance to escape. It only takes a couple of minutes to become deadly. Leaving your vehicle in the shade is just as dangerous because the sun can shift while you're away. The safest solution is to either bring your pet with you into the store, or if that isn't possible, leave your pet at home.
  • If you don't have air conditioning, make sure to have fans running.
  • Consider trimming or shaving the coat of a longer-haired pet. They will feel more comfortable. Just make sure to leave enough hair on to prevent sunburn.
  • Keep in mind that walking surfaces can be very hot and can burn your pet's paws. Delicate foot pads can burn easily and it is very painful for your pet.
  • Pets can get sunburned too. Your pet may require sunscreen on his nose and ear tips. This is especially important if your pet has short hair, pink skin, light-coloured noses or light-coloured fur on their ears. Talk to your veterinarian about choosing a sunscreen and be sure to limit your pet's sun exposure.
  • If you are camping, don't leave your pet in an enclosed tent or cabin. It can be just as dangerous as a parked car.
  • Wherever you go with your pet, always provide plenty of cool, clean water to drink. Carry a collapsible water bowl with you.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
Abnormally rapid breathing including uncontrollable or irregular heavy panting
Glazed eyes
A rapid pulse and heartbeat
Unsteadiness or a staggering gait including odd inactivity or sluggish behaviour
Reddened gums and tongue

If you see any of these signs, you need to immediately lower his body temperature. Move your pet into a cool room or into the shade and wrap them in a towel soaked with cool (not cold) water. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. Most importantly, get him to a veterinarian immediately.

Courtesy of Marilyn Murray ~ For The Love of Animals