Heat stroke is a serious condition that unfortunately occurs all too often in dogs and cats. Your pet can succumb to heat stroke when his body’s core temperature rises excessively — typically to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to heat stroke because their furry bodies cannot sweat to dissipate heat.
Certain breeds and animals are more susceptible to heat stroke. If your animal is overweight, elderly or already has a heart condition, is it imperative that you take special care to ensure your pet is well hydrated and has access to ample cool space. If your animal does overheat, it’s important to know the warning signs.
- Rapid panting or particularly heavy breathing
- Lethargy or mild weakness
- Increased heart rate
- An elevated body temperature of 104 or more degrees Fahrenheit
- Bloody diarrhea
If your animal exhibits any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately and move your pet to a cool, shady location. Begin to cool your pet’s body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin region. You may also wet the earflaps and paws with cool water. CAUTION: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling too quickly and especially allowing his body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions.