Heatstroke can be a very serious problem for both people and pets. Pet owners must be aware of the dangers of heatstroke as the temperatures rise.
Many pets enjoy riding along in the car with their owners. However, a hot summer day can spell trouble for pets, especially those left unattended in vehicles.
“Every year, the news reports on pets that have died from overexposure to heat while being left in vehicles,” said Darcy Howen, operator at Petland of Rockford. “It usually occurs when the pet owner leaves the pet in the vehicle while they shop or run a quick errand. It doesn’t have to be extremely hot outdoors for a pet to suffer heatstroke inside a car.”
According to Petland, leaving a pet inside a closed automobile for just 10 to 20 minutes is risky on an 80-degree day as temperatures can quickly rise to 120 degrees Fahrenheit — enough heat to kill a pet. Even 10 minutes inside a hot car is enough to cause exhaustive heatstroke in cats and small dogs. Rabbits, hamsters and birds have even less of a chance for survival.
Heatstroke can be prevented quite easily if you follow one Petland rule.
“We always advise leaving pets at home when running errands on warm days,” Howen said.
Pets left outdoors during periods of intense heat also are vulnerable to heatstroke. Outdoor pets always must have a supply of fresh, cool drinking water and places to rest out of direct sunlight.
Know signs of heatstroke
Heatstroke in a pet is easy to diagnose early on. Some first signs are quite visible. They include excessive panting, salivation and a racing pulse. The pet also will have a high body temperature and may vomit. In latter stages of heatstroke, the pet lapses into a coma. At this point, the pet can suffer brain damage and die.
When a pet experiences some of the warning signs of heatstroke, it may be too risky to just drive the pet to a veterinarian.
Ways to help in an emergency
Until proper medical care is provided, submerging a pet’s body in cool water or pouring cool water over its body can help. Ice packs, if available, can be used to lower body temperature, too. Pet owners also should rinse the pet’s mouth with cool water, offering ice chips or very small amounts of water to drink. It is best to keep cool water or cold packs on the heat-exhausted pet until reaching the veterinarian. The medical professional can then take a temperature reading and thoroughly examine the pet.