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Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs

The summer months can get very hot and this can put your pet at risk for heatstroke. Today, our Douglasville vets talk about the signs and symptoms of heatstroke in cats and dogs and how you can help.

Heatstroke in Cats and Dogs

Heatstroke is most common during the summer months when it is hot and your pet's core body temperature rises above normal faster than their bodies can cool themselves down. This could cause an inflammatory response throughout their body, resulting in organ failure and even death.

Other factors that can cause heatstroke in cats and dogs include excessive exercise, not enough shade, dehydration, and a warm/ humid environment without enough circulation, such as being in an unventilated car or being left outside on a hot day.

The following factors could increase your pet's risk of heatstroke:

  • Obesity
  • Thick fur/ coat
  • Age ( young or old pets)
  • Dehydration
  • Flat-faced pets ( Himalayan cats, Persian cats, bulldogs, Scottish terriers, etc.)

If you believe your pet has heatstroke it is considered an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.

Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

There are several signs you should watch out for to determine if your cat or dog has heat exhaustion/ heatstroke and we have listed them below:

  • Panting ( most often seen in dogs but, can occur in cats with heatstroke)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Lethargy
  • No or little urine
  • Delirium/ mental confusion
  • Drooling
  • Red or pale gums
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  •  Red tongue
  • Heart rate increase
  • Distressed breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coma

If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet right away as heatstroke is a very serious condition that requires urgent care.

How to Treat Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs

Before taking your pet to the vet or if you can't get there immediately there are several things you can do to bring down your cat or dog's body temperature at home.

  • First, remove them from the hot environment as fast as you can.
  • Place cool (not cold) water or cloths on their bodies to help cool them down. Don't use ice packs, ice cubes, or cold water as it can make their condition worse.
  • Aim a fan at them to implement evaporative cooling.
  • Keep the air conditioner on the entire time you are in the car taking them to the vet.
  • Your pet has to be cooled down gradually, trying to cool your cat or dog too quickly will only make the situation worse, never use ice or ice-cold water.

Call your veterinarian to notify them of your emergency and to let them know you're on your way; they may even give you additional instructions on how to help your pet before you arrive at the animal hospital.

Preventing Heatstroke in Cats & Dogs

The best treatment for heatstroke is to prevent it from happening altogether, always follow these steps to keep your beloved cat or dog safe from the heat.

  • Make sure your pet always has access to shade and fresh drinking water, especially when they are outside in the heat.
  • Keep your pet inside on hot days and only bring them outside for bathroom breaks.
  • Do not leave your pet in a car it can kill them, even on a mild day, the temperature in a vehicle can rise very rapidly.
  • Keep your pet off of hot surfaces with little or no shade such as asphalt, concrete, and stone.
  • Keep a water area in the shade such as a kiddie pool or sprinkler so your dog can cool themselves off and have fun while they are outside.
  • Alway's keep inside areas well ventilated with fans or/ and air conditioning.
  • Do not take your pet outside for exercise during the day when it is hot out, wait for the evening time when the air is cooler.

If you believe your cat or dog has heat exhaustion or heatstroke, contact our Douglasville vets for urgent veterinary care because it is considered an emergency that requires immediate attention.

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At Kay Animal Hospital, we can't wait to welcome you and your four-legged friend into our veterinary family. Learn more about the services we offer and the difference our care and compassion make by booking your first appointment today!

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