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Article 6: Heat Stroke


We have all heard and seen the daily excessive warnings this summer and there appears to be no relief in sight. Our warm winter without snow payback is wreaking havoc on our crops, our lawns, and our pets. Excessive heat can be extremely dangerous for our pets. They can suffer from dehydration, over-heating, heat stroke, and in extreme cases even death. The good news is all heat-related illnesses can be avoided and prevented if you plan ahead and take the proper protection steps. Here are some things to watch for and some steps to take to keep your pet cool this summer.

Create A “Heat-Free” Zone In & Out of Your Home

Whether it is your basement, garage, a nice shady tree, a doghouse, or other shelter your pet

needs a place to get out of the direct sun and ideally where the area temperature is lower than the current outside temperature. Plan and create a “Heat-Free” Zone before the excessive heat warning arrives and make sure everyone in the family knows where that place is and is ready and willing to move the pet to the safe location. Avoid those “Did you, no I thought you did…” moments that can lead to heat-related illnesses.

During Excessive Heat Warnings

Move your pet to the “Heat-Free” Zone.

Keep your pet indoors as much as possible.

If your pet likes water and is outside place a kiddie pool or misting hose in or near the

         “Heat-Free” zone.

Make sure you pet has access to plenty of cool, clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

Allow for greater consumption by adding an extra water dish/bowl/bucket or increasing its size.

Make sure someone is checking the bowl throughout the excessive heat day. It might get spilled, knocked over, or consumed and may need to be refilled.


Just like you do for yourself or your family greatly limit or restrict the amount of exercise

receives and arrange for that to occur either early in the morning or late in the evening. At all costs avoid midday heat exercise.

Dogs and cats can get sunburned just like we do it left out. Especially the nose, ears, and paws. So make sure they can get away from direct sunlight on excessive heat



You know what it feels like when you walk on asphalt or concrete during an excessive heat day in bare feet. It is no different for your pet. Avoid burned paw pads by allowing your pet to walk on grass. Stay clear of all concrete, asphalt, and especially metal surfaces during excessive heat

days. If your pet refuses to walk, has a limp, or is licking/chewing at its paws they may be warning signs that they have burned their paw pads. If you see these types of behavior consult your veterinarian immediately for home or in-clinic treatment. If your pet is suffering pick your pet up and carry to a grassy area and allow the paws to soak in cool water, or apply a cool compress to the affected area.



Each year hundreds of pets across the country die needlessly from being left in parked vehicles.

The inside vehicle temperature can rise by as much as 40 degrees above the ambient outside temperature. This is true even when the outside temperature is as low as 72 degrees. That means on a 90 degree day the inside temperature can exceed 130 degrees in as little as thirty minutes.  Imagine what it does on an extreme heat day. With an outside temperature of 102 a vehicle parked in direct sunlight can rise as much as 30 degrees per minute and quickly become lethal even with the windows cracked slightly. The bottom line is do not ever leave your pet unattended in a vehicle for any reason. If your pet is exposed to this type of extreme heat contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance. Your pet’s body is not designed to sweat like human the human body and therefore has very little body surface area from which sweat can pass through. Short-nosed breeds and heavy coated breeds have an even higher risk factor for heat-related illnesses including heat stroke.




Heat Stroke is an immediate life-threatening situation that needs urgent attention and care. It occurs when the body cannot regulate its own temperature and cool itself. It is associated with an extremely high internal body temperature of between 104 and 110°F. Your pet will show signs of

excessive panting, a dark red or bright red tongue and gums, sticky/dry tongue and gums to the touch, nausea, bloody diarrhea and/or vomiting, unstable on feet, seizures, up to and including unconsciousness.

If left untreated your pet can lapse into a comma and die.


Heat Stress is a milder form of heat-related stress illness that can develop over several days of heat exposure, and/or inadequate fluid intake. The signs can be similar to heat stroke and

include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse or heart rate, staggering, no desire to eat/drink, vomiting, and weakness or lethargy.


Sunburn looks the same in animals as it does in humans and is likely to occur to the nose, ears, and paws. Normally pink-skinned pets (light skinned) are at a greater risk of sunburn.



Heat related illness is very serious business and should not be left to home care alone. Many symptoms are similar to other types of illness and must be evaluated by a trained professional to determine exact cause and treatment. However, if you are certain your pet is suffering from a heat-related illness you can begin urgent treatment at home by doing the following before you visit your veterinarian.

Move your pet to a shaded area, indoors, or to an air conditioned area nearby (including a vehicle).

Apply ice packs, cold packs, or cold towels to your pet’s head, neck, and chest.

Do not cool your pet too quickly or leave ice packs on for more than ten minutes at a time to avoid frostbite.

Let your pet drink small amounts of cool (not ice cold) water or lick on an ice cube. Never force your pet to ingest ice or drink water. Small amounts over a longer period of time are much better for your pet than ingesting an entire bowl in a matter of minutes.


Finally, if it is uncomfortable outside for you your pets feel the same way. If you would not want to be out in it for an extended period of time neither would they. If you can avoid the heat altogether the better it is for your pet and the chance of a heat-related illness drops to zero.



One of our representatives will be happy to contact you via e-mail within 24 hours, or for urgent needs please call us at: (913) 888-3939