Keoki's Corner

Pet Heat Safety

Colling off on a hot day

With summer weather approaching, heatstroke is something every pet parent should be informed about. It is serious and often fatal result of a pet’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are some tips to keep your pets safe in the heat, possible signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your pet is overheated.

We see many cases of heatstroke in the Spring when there is a rapid jump in temperature. You need to be cautious when it has typically been in the 50’s and all of a sudden we have a day in the 70’s. Pets and their owners alike do not have an adjustment period where their bodies can get used to the warmer temperatures. Many people don’t realize that our pets can develop heatstroke simply by overexerting themselves in temperatures that are not considered hot.

If it is hot outside, there are some easy things you can do to keep your dog safe and more comfortable in the heat. If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in; dog houses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You can also fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your pet in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100° F in a matter of minutes.

Always provide access to plenty of cool, fresh water. Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.

English Bulldog

Brachycephalic (short-faced) breeds, including Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Pekingese, Persians, and Himalayans have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs and cats. You need to exercise a lot more caution with these breeds. Older pets also tend to become heat intolerant to please use extra caution as your pet ages.

Pets in early stages of heat stroke can show signs that include heavy panting, rapid breathing, excessive drooling, bright red gums and tongue, and restlessness.

Pets in advanced stages of heat stroke can show signs that include white or blue gums, lethargy, unwillingness to move, uncontrollable urination or defecation, and labored, noisy breathing.

If you suspect your pet may be overheating, you can try to take your pet’s temperature. You can do this rectally with a digital thermometer like you would buy at the drugstore for yourself. Use a lubricant like petroleum jelly. If their temperature is greater than 103° F, you need to seek veterinary care immediately after taking at least one of the steps below to cool your pet.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down by doing the following:

  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin area and arm pits.
  • Hose the dog down with water.
  • Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
  • Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Upon doing the above steps, you should seek emergency veterinary care immediately.