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Cats and Dogs, Critter Chatter, Healthcare

CRITTER CHATTER: Summer Heat Risks

The Paw Print

Essential Pet Blog

two brown dachshunds on the beach

“Hot, Hot, Hot”

-Buster Poindexter

There is good news for folks in the Midwest and other areas where pets and people are currently shivering in frigid weather conditions. According to the National Weather Service, June is forecast to have hot temperatures from the Southeast into the mid-Atlantic. Parts of the Pacific Northwest, particularly western Washington, could also have above-average temperatures. Unfortunately, too much hot weather can be bad news for dogs and cats because of the potential for heat-related problems.

Summer Heat Risks

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion because they are left in parked cars. The temperature inside an automobile can rise almost 30°F in 20 minutes. After 60 minutes, temperatures reach 40° higher than the outside, putting a pet at risk of serious harm or even death. And don’t assume that cracking a window will help prevent such problems. Never leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle in warm weather.

Dogs can overheat very quickly. Once their internal temperature reaches 109°, internal organs begin to malfunction and death comes quickly, albeit painfully. Certain breeds are more prone to overheating than others. Those with flat faces and short noses, such as Persian cats, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Bulldogs cannot cool themselves as efficiently as other breeds. Elderly, overweight, and pets with heart disease or metabolic diseases such as diabetes are more prone to heat exhaustion and may take longer to recover.

Warning signs

Signs of overheating include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rates, drooling, weakness, stupor and eventually collapse. Seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting can occur when body temperatures rise above 104°. Pets become dehydrated very readily, adding to the problems of the hot environment.

How to help

If there are any indications of overheating, get your dog or cat into a cool room or shaded area. Offer them water, but do not force them to drink. Placing cool water or wet towels around their neck, back and underside helps to gradually lower body temperature. Don’t use ice or ice water because it actually delays cooling of the inner organs. A fan aimed directly at them helps dissipate heat. If your animal appears weak or dazed, take them immediately to a veterinarian.

Hot weather and sun can cause other problems for pets, including sunburn, pad burns from hot asphalt, dehydration and weakness from not having access to fresh drinking water, and heat stress from running, hiking or chasing Frisbees. Even left alone in a poorly-ventilated room or in areas without ample shade and water can be trouble.

Summer sun is a time for summer fun. It’s a time to take your pet hiking, biking and boating (in a life jacket, of course). It’s a time of family gatherings, outside grilling and starry nights. Always being alert to the potential dangers of overheating will keep your pet from getting hot, hot, hot.

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a vet and his dogABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Brown holds a Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of California at Davis, a Master of Science Degree in Animal Science and Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Physiology from the University of California.  Following discharge from the Air Force as a Captain, he owned and operated the largest veterinary hospital on Cape Cod for almost twenty years. Brown is the past President of the Yavapai Humane Society Board of Directors, Branding Committee Chairman for National Animal Supplement Council and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.  He writes and lectures frequently on the benefits of natural and organic foods and supplements for animals and lives with his wife and a Golden doodle named Charlotte.

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