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We all love our furry friends. So much so, that many of us consider their health and well-being before our own. Sometimes, however, we become wrapped up in our own activities and gatherings and forget just how susceptible pets are to heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Hartz and other sites have some invaluable information that just may save your pet's life, and may prevent the heartache that comes with losing a beloved pet.
Everyone enjoys being outside in summer: pool parties, family gatherings, holiday celebrations, hiking and playing at the park. It's natural to get tired and overheated after being outdoors, especially when you live in areas with extreme temperatures (including Las Vegas and other desert climes). Lack of water, overindulgence and too much extended exercise can lead to discomfort, illness and, unfortunately, severe health issues such as heat stroke.
So what is heat stroke anyway? Another word for this condition is hyperthermia (too high a body temperature). Pets normally have a body temperature that's slightly above our 98.6: for them, their normal temperatures range from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your pet reaches 103 degrees, he is at risk of heat stroke. At 109 degrees, it becomes life threatening.
Signs may include lethargy, weakness, collapse or even coma. Pets pant excessively, stick out their bright red tongue, drool a thick, sticky saliva and they may become sluggish before vomiting.
Heat stroke is most commonly caused by leaving your pet in a car with closed windows and no water. Please take note that this is also now illegal in many states and countries. It's never acceptable to leave any pet unattended in a car during hot weather. Just think of a car as an oven and you may understand how your pet feels. Other causes are too much excitement, exercise or lack of shade and water when outdoors. Remember that danger zones are from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (or 4:00 p.m. to be safe) for pets and humans. All living creatures can lose electrolytes if outside for too long without shade, moving air (fans help slightly) or enough water. On very hot days, you may want to consider adding a tablespoon or two of Pedialyte or your Gatorade to your dog or cat's water dish. Outdoor cats suffer from the same dangers if not provided with shade, water and a cooler resting place. If you can, keep Fluffy inside during the hottest part of the day.
Sick, older or overweight pets, and kittens and puppies are also more prone to suffering heat strokes. If you have shaved your pet for the summer, they may also be at risk for sunburn, because for many breeds, the coat lends some natural protection. But also beware that very dark and thick coats also cause your pet to overheat more quickly. Dogs or cats with flatter faces: Pugs, bulldogs, boxers, Persians and Himalayans, are susceptible to heat stroke because of their shorter airways (this causes them to pant more).
Take any pet that you suspect of suffering from heat stroke to the vet right away. Try offering tiny spoons of cold water (or squirting it into their mouth if you can) and put cold washcloths or towels on their head, stomach, feet and under their legs. A bag of ice around the mouth and anus may also help. You can stop treatment once their rectal temperature decreases to 102.5 but still make sure they get to the vet. If not caught soon enough, heat stroke may be fatal.
Monitor your pets, keep them away from direct sunlight or closed vehicles and always make sure they have lots of fresh drinking water. Have fun, inside or out, but don't overdo it. Also, please remember to leave pets inside during fireworks, as they may panic and run away. So many pets have been lost during this time of the year.