Beat Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a deadly condition veterinarians see every summer. While the most commonly known cause is pets left unattended in hot cars, there are other ways it can happen, too, and all of them are equally dangerous. 

In addition to hot cars, pets can get overheated from

  • strenuous exercise during the hottest parts of the day, 
  • when kept outside without access to shade, or
  • when unable to cool down for any other reason (including being in unventilated or un-airconditioned rooms or buildings). 


Therefore, it's vital to make sure your pets have access to shade, cool air, and water at all times during hot weather.

Dogs and cats with short muzzles, like pugs, boxers, Boston terriers, and Persians, and pets with heavy coats are especially at risk, but any pet may be in danger if the temperature is high and there's no way to cool down. Other predisposing risks include obesity, underlying heart disease and upper airway disorders.

Please remember to keep pets safe during the summer months.

Know the signs of heat stroke:

  • Rapid, intense panting
  • Weakness
  • Ataxia (staggering gait)
  • Collapse
  • Pale and/or dry gums
  • A rectal temperature of 105 degrees or higher


If your dog or cat is showing any of these signs, you need to get him/her cooled down and to a veterinarian quickly! Heat stroke can be fatal, so it's important to take immediate action.

And how to prevent it:

  • Avoid leaving your pet in a parked car during the warmer months, even on mildly hot days. Remember, it only takes a few minutes to cause serious injury—even with the windows cracked. (Depending on your local climate, it might be too warm all the time - so it's really best to make a practice of NEVER leaving your pet in a parked car.)
  • Have water available at all times. Offer water to your dog every 15 minutes while exercising and be sure to bring water for both of you on all outings and walks.
  • If you live in an area with outdoor cats (stray, feral or pet), keep water out for them, as well. Just because they live outside, doesn't mean they can't suffer from heat stroke!
  • Remember that indoor pets are only protected from the heat if the temperature inside is kept cool. If you are going to be out of the house, try to cool it down as much as possible before you leave. You may also consider leaving the air conditioner on a low setting, covering up windows or keeping pets in a cool bathroom during the day.
  • Use caution while exercising. Early morning or evening is the best time to exercise your pet during the summer months. Also, be mindful of hot pavement on your pet’s feet. If you are unsure whether the pavement is too hot for your dog, you may test it with your hand. If it is too hot for your palm, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. Protective booties can help.
  • You may consider shaving pets with heavy coats if they spend a significant amount of time in the heat. Remember, though, your pet can get sunburned, too! Invest in doggie sunscreen if needed, but don’t use the human variety—it can be toxic if licked. Talk to your groomer before deciding on a shave, though. Some pets' coats aren't meant to be shaved and provide protection from the heat and sun!


Remember, if it's too hot for you, it's probably too hot for your fur-coat-wearing four-legged friend. So when you get hot, make sure your pets aren't over-heating! But if something does happen, we're here 24/7 for emergencies.


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