Posted June 16, 2017

As the temperatures outside increase, so do the chances for hyperthermia in your pets. 

happy dog in field

Also known as heatstroke; hyperthermia occurs when the body cannot accommodate excessive internal heat. Heatstroke often occurs in the summer, when high temperatures and humidity are most common. If not treated by a veterinarian immediately, heatstroke can lead to organ dysfunction and even death. The best way to protect your pet is to take steps to prevent heatstroke in the first place.

Never leave your pet in the car. You may be tempted to bring your pet while you run errands, but they are safer at home. During warm weather, the internal temperature of cars can rise within minutes, even if you’re parked in the shade. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that when it is 70°F outside, your car’s interior temperature will reach 99°F within 20 minutes. If you see a pet left alone in a car, note the license plate number and alert the management of the store or call your local non-emergency number.

Provide plenty of shade and water. Pets can get dehydrated quickly. Be sure to give them plenty of fresh water and a shaded place to rest. If it is too hot outside, keep your pet indoors.

Understand your pet’s limits. Exercise in hot weather can be difficult for pets. Keep walks short and at a gentle pace. If your pet needs more exercise, consider going for longer walks in the morning or at night when it is cooler. Always bring water for your pet. 

Know the signs. Excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased drooling, rapid heart rate, and irregular heartbeat are all signs of heatstroke. If your pet’s body temperature if above 104°F, your pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Normal body temperature for a dog is between 101-102.5°F.

Have a plan. If you suspect heatstroke, get your pet out of direct sunlight immediately. Place a cool, wet towel around your pet’s head and neck. Do not cover their eyes, nose, or mouth. Remove the towel, wring it out, and rewrap every few minutes to help cool your pet. Let your pet drink as much cool water as they want. Get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Even if you are able to remove your pet from the heat and can administer first aid, your pet must be seen by a veterinarian. Heatstroke can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and blood clots. Your veterinarian will check for shock and ensure that a normal body temperature has been reached and stabilized.