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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Heatstroke Prevention for the Dog Days of Summer


It’s July, which means that we are officially in the dog days of summer. This phrase refers to the hottest and most humid days of summer that typically occur in July and August. Both people and animals can suffer from heat-related illnesses at this time of year. Unfortunately, heatstroke is common in pets and has a fatality rate of approximately 50 percent. That’s why it’s so important to educate yourself about heatstroke prevention as well as its symptoms and treatment options.

Prevention is Always the Best Medicine

You love your pet and want to keep him safe and comfortable. These tips can help you do exactly that:

• Don’t leave your pet in a hot car even for a minute. Some pet owners assume their dog or cat will be fine if the car window is open, but this simply isn’t true. On a typical 80-degree summer day, the temperature inside the car can reach 100 degrees within 10 minutes and 120 degrees with 30 minutes. An animal can suffer from irreversible organ damage at that point.

• Make sure your pet’s water dish is always full to keep her hydrated. If she is outside for an extended time, put out a large bowl of water and show her where it is.

• When you let your dog or cat outside, make sure there are plenty of shady areas for him to rest.

• Schedule your pet’s daily exercise for the early morning or late afternoon when the heat and humidity are usually lower. You should also avoid walking her on asphalt or pavement on hot days.

• Buy a plastic children’s pool and fill it with water. Your dog can take a dip any time he feels too hot. When your pet comes in from outdoors, apply a cooling pack to his skin for a few minutes.


How to Recognize Heatstroke in Pets

Because every animal is unique, they can still succumb to heat stroke despite your loving care. Here are the symptoms you should watch for:

• Excessive drooling

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Confusion

• Lethargy

• The gums and tongue appear sticky, dry, or are a bright red color

• Seizures in severe cases

If you notice even one of these symptoms, remove your pet from the heat immediately. You should use towels with cold water to start cooling her down instead of ice, but you can offer ice cubes for her to lick. In an emergency, please contact us at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital right away. If it’s after hours, contact Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service at the location nearest you.


Image credit:  AdrianDavies | iStock