Knowing the signs of heat stroke in pets

Pet heat stroke - GMA.JPG
Posted at 6:15 AM, Aug 07, 2019

Summer may be coming to an end for many people in Acadiana, but that doesn't mean summer temperatures are going anywhere.

And Louisiana's summer temperatures, which can reach in excess of 100 degrees, mean that protecting those who can't protect themselves is key.

It does not take long for the heat of summer to hit a person when they step outside, and your pet is no different.

Dr. Jackie Simon at Country Place Veterinary Clinic says that like humans, pets can be effected by the rising temperatures.

"Just like with ourselves where we tend to not want to go outside at two in afternoon cut the grass or play baseball, it's the same with them," says Dr. Simon

Unlike humans who sweat, dogs eliminate heat from their bodies by panting. But, Dr. Simon says that sometimes that panting isn't enough. That's when a dog's body temperature rises.

"They can only pant so much before that ratio of them cooling off and 'I'm not cool is out of wack,' " says Dr. Simon.

Just this year Country Place Veterinary Clinic has seen three cases of heat stroke in pets. But Dr. Lindsay Reed says that the emergency clinics have seen many more.

"We close at 5:30, so it's all happening after that time," says Dr. Reed. "It can still happen even if it's not in the heat of the day."

Signs to look for if you think your pet is experiencing heat stroke:

  • Rapid Panting
  • Weakness
  • Bright Red Tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Thick/Sticky Saliva

What you need to do:

  • Move the dog to a cool place
  • Apply cool water over the body
  • Apply cool towels to the head, neck, and chest
  • Give small drinks of cool water to the animal
  • Take your dog to the vet or animal emergency clinic

"Starting the cooling process at home is very helpful," says Dr. Reed. "Getting cool wash clothes, not cold or ice-- you don't need ice because that can drop [body temperature] very quickly. Putting cool wash clothes in the arm pits, the groin, on the footpads, and the ears, and get them inside as quick as possible. The sooner you bring them in the more helpful we can be."

While the effects of a heat stroke can be devastating on an animal, it is preventable. Doctors encourage pet owners to recognize the signs and pay close attention to their pets in the heat.