Animal Attraction: Heat exhaustion can be fatal for pets

Animal Attraction: Heat exhaustion can be fatal for pets

Credit: Jeff Anastasio

Animal Attraction: Heat exhaustion can be fatal for pets



Posted on August 2, 2012 at 7:09 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 2 at 10:26 AM

As the triple-digit temperatures continue to roast Central Texas, the hot weather has the potential to harm more than people. It can take a fatal toll on your four-legged friends.

Because of their fur coats, cats and dogs are at least 10 times hotter than any human in this heat, with less ability to fight off the heat because they can’t sweat. 

The Austin Humane Society offers these tips to help your animals avoid heat exhaustion:

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car – cracked windows will not protect your pet from overheating in the car. Even with windows down, temperatures rise quickly inside and a car can be 25 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
  • Provide plenty of clean, fresh water at all times, change water daily.
  • Provide adequate shade and/or shelter from the sun and, if pets are kept in a kennel, adequate air circulation
  • Exercise your dog in the early morning or evening hours. Avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Hot pavement can mean hot or burned paws, avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or roads.
  • Baby pools filled with cool water can be fun and cooling for most dogs (use the hard plastic pool)
  • Fill a gallon milk container with water, freeze, place it in cage or in a cool spot in the yard for a cool place to lay next to and get cool
  • Since many people treat their lawns with pesticides at this time of the year, keep your pet away from unfamiliar yards and grassy areas.
  • Grooming is a must, but do not shave off all your pets’ hair - his coat will protect him from getting sunburned.
  • Steer your pet clear of puddles of auto coolant in the garage or driveway.  This liquid tastes sweet and is tempting to animals but is poisonous and could lead to a fatal result.
  • Pets should ride inside the car, not in the back of an open vehicle where they are subject directly to the elements as well as run the risk of bouncing or falling out.  If your pet must travel in the back of an open vehicle, make sure he’s safely tethered to the center of the bed where he’s unable to reach the sides and is able to stand or site on a slip-proof and cool surface.  

Any pet can suffer from heat stress, although some animals are more prone or susceptible than others:  

  • Very young or very old animals
  • Short-nosed breeds of cats and dogs
  • Overweight animals
  • Pets with cardiovascular or respiratory problems                                                                 
  • Animals with a history of heat stress
  • Heavy coated breeds and ‘Arctic’ breeds of dogs
  • Rabbits cannot tolerate temperatures above 85-90 degrees very well  

 Signs of heat stress include: 

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea
  • Profuse panting
  • Drooling, staring,
  • Anxious expression
  • Warm, dry skin
  • High fever
  • High heart rate
  • Muscle weakness
  • Inability to move, nonresponsive
  • Collapse 

Heat stress can be fatal – Get your pet to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY when you see these symptoms.