Summer is a fun time for everyone, including our pets. We all get out of the house, playing at the pool, beach, or lake, or simply hanging out in the backyard with a barbecue and beverage. But, just like the dangers posed by the cold temperatures that winter brings, we must also consider the hazards that warmer weather can pose to our beloved pets, such as heat stroke.
Heat stroke (or hyperthermia) is a life-threatening condition caused by overheating in your pet. Early in heat stroke, symptoms may be easy to miss. Appearing distressed, panting and acting restless are common signs, but you may just chalk them up to the excitement of the day at the beach. But as heat stroke progresses, you may see your pet become unsteady on his feet. His gum color may also change from pink to blue or purple. If your pet is showing signs of heatstroke, it is an emergency situation which requires immediate veterinary care.
Avoiding heat stroke is easy if you consider the following points:
- Never, ever, ever, ever leave your pet in your car unattended, especially not on a warm day. Not even to run into the store for a minute. On a warm day, your car can become an oven, even with the windows cracked. Studies have shown that even in mild temperatures, the inside of your car can rise 40 degrees in as short as an hour, with the biggest rise in temperatures within the first 30 minutes! If you are running errands on a warm day, even if it's cloudy out, it’s best just to leave your dog at home.
- Provide shade for your dog. Being able to get out of direct sunlight can help your dog stay cool.
- Because dogs cannot sweat, they rely on panting to cool their systems. Provide adequate ventilation and cool water at all times and limit time spent outdoors during hot days.
- Work up slowly to exercise, and exercise during the cool parts of the day. Many pets – and people – have been dormant most of the winter. Just as you’re not ready for that marathon right off the bat, our pets also need to ease into their new exercise routine.
- Keep a special eye on older pets. They have a harder time rising and can be very sound sleepers. Falling asleep in the sun may sound luxurious, but for older pets it can be life-threatening.