Know the signs of pet heatstroke

Oscar is asking, "Are you my new family?"

Oscar is asking, “Are you my new family?”

Heatstroke is a real concern for Arizona pets. Failing to recognize the signs can be extremely dangerous – even deadly – to your beloved pet. Dogs are the most at-risk, because they spend more time outdoors and traveling with us in vehicles than do other pets. It is crucial to know the signs of heatstroke and keep an eye out for them when you are outdoors or traveling with your pet. Excessive heat that raises your dog’s body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit can cause severe, potentially fatal damage to your dog’s brain, heart, and liver. The following five signs you must never ignore:

Rapid Panting Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature and stay cool.Some amount of panting is normal and healthy. However, the minute you feel his panting is excessive (more than usual), get your dog out of the heat and to a cool or shady area, with access to plenty of fresh water.

Color changes in the tongue and/or gums Check the color of his tongue and gums. As body temperature rises, the tongue and gums can become darker red in color. Conversely, paler-colored gums can also be a sign of heatstroke, as it can indicate oxygen deficiency. If you notice this, head indoors or for the shade and allow your dog access to plenty of cool water. If you think oxygen depletion is occurring, call your vet or get to an emergency hospital immediately.

Depression/Lethargy If your dog is lethargic, not getting up or off balance, these can all be very serious signs of heatstroke that should never be ignored. This behavior can be the result of internal organ damage brought on by excessive heat.

Vomiting/Diarrhea These symptoms can be a result of dehydration and/or internal distress brought on by heat. If this occurs, offer him fresh water and call your vet immediately.

Unresponsiveness/Coma Coma is a depressed level of consciousness. He may initially act confused and not obey commands. Stupor can progress to a total loss of consciousness. If your dog is not responding and cannot be awakened, call your vet and get him to an emergency hospital immediately.

Never, never put ice water or cold water on the dog. It will throw him into shock.

Remember, dogs cannot tell us they are in distress. While we often think of them as a family member, we must remember that our dogs cannot tell us they are too hot or do not feel well. By the time they are showing outward signs of distress, the situation can already be extremely serious.

Please take every precaution to keep your dog safe from overheating. By being proactive and sensible, you can keep your dog safe during Arizona summers!

Oscar is a real sweetheart. He is inviting you to stop by the second Saturday of every month in the Cottonwood Dance (Room A-6). Need more information?
Call 480-600-2828.