As coast- to- coast summer temperatures soar, so does the risk of heatstroke in pets, warns the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, three quarters of the nation, from the Southwest to the Mid-Atlantic, face above average summer temperatures in 2012.
“Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke, and permanent organ damage or even death” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. Kellogg has several tips for avoiding these consequences.
Never leave your pets in a parked car. It takes only ten minutes on an 85 degree day for the temperature inside a car with slightly opened windows to reach 102 degrees. After 30 minutes, the temperature reaches 120 degrees. Those who see an animal in distress in a car should contact the police or a local shelter immediately.
Limit exercise on very hot days to the early morning or evening hours. If possible, walk your pet on grass as asphalt retains heat and can burn paws.
Protect your pet from heat and sun through shade and a constant supply of fresh, cool water. Doghouses do not provide protection from the heat but only make it worse.
Watch for high humidity. Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs. If the humidity is high, they are unable to cool themselves, and will become overheated very quickly.
Signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, vomiting, profuse salivation, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure or unconsciousness.
If your pet has heatstroke, move her into the shade or an air-conditioned area,” says Dr. Kellogg. “Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck and chest or run cool (but not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water, or lick ice cubes and seek veterinary care immediately.”