During periods of extreme heat, heat-related illnesses affect not only humans but also animals. Pets at home may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun. Animal hospitals are seeing an increase in pets suffering from being out in the sun for too long.
"It's life threatening. I've had several die from heat stroke. If you don't pay attention quick enough or if it's been going on for too long, it can be deadly" said Bryan Wade D.V.M. of A Caring Heart Veterinary Hospital.
Commonly, pets can experience heat-related illnesses if they've exercised too much or ran out of water in their water bowls. Signs include panting, salivating, glazed eyes, unsteadiness, unresponsiveness, vomiting or collapse.
"A lot of times the membranes get really red. It progresses on into stiff muscles and seizures" said Wade.
Upon seeing the first sign, pet owners need to immediately start the cooling process. However, the key is to try and not get the body temperature to drop quickly. The process must be done gradually to prevents pets from having a hypothermic shock.
Owners should first get the pet to a cooler area and decrease the body temperature with towels soaked in cool, but not cold water. If the pet is able, they may drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. There may be a chance that their body temperature may soar again so owners need to seek the help of a veterinarian right away to prevent potential longer-term health problems.
In order to help reduce heat-related illnesses in pets, Wade says it lies in the pet owner's ability to be responsible.
"Use common sense and put yourself in their situation before you do anything. A lot of it can be prevented by the owners taking their time to evaluate the situation" he said.
Pet owners who have dogs with short snouts like Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Pugs need to be careful because those breeds can be extra sensitive to the heat.
By taking just a few simple steps, pet owners can help ensure that the hot temperatures will be nothing more than a minor discomfort for your pet.
- Keep pets indoors and be sure that any outdoor animals have access to shade.
- Avoid exercise and walks on hot pavement during the heat of the day (mainly between 10am-4pm)
- Provide fresh water at all times
- Never leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes.