PET SAFETY: Know the signs of heat stress and heat stroke

PET SAFETY: Know the signs of heat stress and heat stroke
(Source: KSLA News 12)

(KSLA) - In the ArkLaTex, it's not a question of if it's going to get hot. It's a question of how hot is it going to get.

On average, heat is the number one weather killer each year, according to the National Weather Service.

Our pets can suffer from heat stress and heat stroke, too.

Dr. Catherine Foret, University Veterinary Hospital, says it's important for pet owners to know the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke in dogs since they cannot tell us they are hot.

  • Uncontrollable panting
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Red on the inside of their ears
  • Pink or red color of the gums
  • Color of their tongue can change color into a darker red or purple color

"Heat stress is when your pet is getting warm. You can intervene at that point, so that might just be [excessive] panting. That is is when you want to stop the activity and get them inside and get them cold water to drink and into a cool environment," says Dr. Foret.

It is important to remember that dogs do not sweat like humans, so it is never a good idea to give a dog a cold bath to try and cool it down. Dr. Foret says it can actually do more harm than good. Instead, Dr. Foret recommends putting water or rubbing alcohol on the pads of their paws and blowing on them to cool them down.

"When a pet is beginning to heat stroke that is when they might get disoriented. They are going to pant, look confused and their saliva is becoming a thick foam," says Dr. Foret. "Those are the symptoms when you need to stop what you are doing and get someone to drive you to a veterinarian and call them on the way."

Pet owners also need to be aware of their pet's health and breed. Dogs with certain health issues are more vulnerable to heat illnesses, so owners should limit their dogs time outside in the heat of the day and only take them out for long periods of time at dawn and dusk.

Dr. Foret says breeds with short snouts have a difficult time maintaining and regulating their body heat, so they are more heat intolerant: French bulldogs, English bulldogs and pugs.

For dog owners, summer fun in the sun can mean taking your dog for a walk in the park, but keep in mind when the air temperature is 90 degrees the temperature of black asphalt can reach 150 degrees.

We wear shoes to protect our feet, but dogs do not.

"When you are going on a walk be thinking about their paws. They can get sores," said Dr. Foret. "They need to get acclimated... they can build up calluses but when you go on a walk maybe don't walk in the middle of the road. Walk on the sidewalk so your pet can walk on the cooler grass."

Keep in mind, if you can't walk barefoot on the concrete or asphalt then it is probably too hot for your pet.

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