The Emergency Medicine veterinarians at MedVet Medical & Cancer Centers for Pets remind pet owners to take precautions for their pets during the extreme heat. Each year, MedVet treats more than 100,000 dogs and cats. Among them are dozens of animals suffering from heatstroke, a dangerous and sometimes deadly condition.

Dogs and cats primarily cool themselves through panting. When the air temperature is high, panting becomes ineffective. The normal body temperature for dogs and cats is 100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. As the body temperature rises, the animal’s primary organs (heart, kidneys, liver, etc.) may begin to shut down. The result can be kidney failure, brain damage, and in severe cases, death.

Dogs and cats show similar signs of heatstroke. Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting (possibly with blood)
  • Restlessness
  • Listlessness
  • Collapse
  • Disorientation

Fortunately, heatstroke in pets can often be prevented. Pet owners should take the following steps:

  • Never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle where temperatures can quickly rise to deadly levels. – Make certain your pet has access to fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Keep your pet primarily indoors, in a cool environment.
  • Limit exercise. Don’t run your pet or otherwise exercise them heavily.
  • If your dog is in the yard, help keep it cool with a children’s wading pool in the shade.

Pet owners who think their pet may be suffering from heatstroke should immediately move the animal to a cool place and begin cooling the pet with a cool damp towel and cool (not cold) water. They should then seek immediate veterinary medical attention. Veterinarians can help cool pets and provide needed medical support with intravenous fluids and other resources.

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