As summer quickly approaches, San Antonians find ways to spend time outdoors to play and mingle….and of course we want to bring Fido with us to share in the good times!!! With San Antonio temperatures reaching the triple digits and high humidity, it is easy to forget about how our beloved dogs are made and how they handle the heat.
Heat stroke is fatal to our beloved furry friends and we want to make sure the warning signs are realized so that it is not too late. As a vet in San Antonio, we’d rather give preventative measures than helping when it may be too late.
What is heat stroke?
Much like in humans, heatstroke can occur when the dog’s body can not cool itself appropriately. A dog’s normal body temp is around 101.5; heatstroke can begin at a body temp of 104 degrees. It doesn’t take much and can have severe even fatal results. Dogs do not have the mechanisms that humans do in order to cool themselves. Rather they combat the heat by sweating thru their pads and panting. All it takes is a nice 80 degree day with humidity to get your dog in trouble with heatstroke.
Most commonly, heat stroke will strike after a 10-20 degree (Fahrenheit) spike in temperature. This is because your pet’s body has not had the proper time to acclimate to the new ambient temperatures.
Any pets (including cats!) can be affected. In our experience, while we’ve treated multiple breeds, it has been more of the brachycephalic (flat-faced) critters – English bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs – and yes, Persian cats.
What are the symptoms of heatstroke?
There are several symptoms to be on alert for. With a dose of common sense, on a hot/humid day with your dog, you can see the warning signs and help your dog to safety. Dogs typically will pant and drool excessively as they begin to overheat. You may also see vomiting and/or diarrhea, unsteadiness on his feet, and/or collapsing. You can also check color of gums; blue, purple or bright red could be signs that Fido is in trouble. It is important if you experience any of these signs to move to a cooler spot, offer some water and contact us for help!
Practicing common sense on a hot day with Fido will go a long way to preventing heatstroke. Paying attention to warning signs and limiting activity in the heat will help ensure Fido reduces his risk of heatstroke and lives to chase the ball again.
Contact us at Acorn Animal Hill Hospital if you have more questions on preventing heatstroke for your dog or cat.