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Keep Pets Safe in Summer Heat

(KNOXVILLE, Tenn.) Soaring summer temperatures can increase your pets risk of heat related illnesses. Although it may be tempting to spend the day in the sun with your canine companion, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) urges pet owners to take precautions to keep pets safe in the heat.

The only way a dog can dissipate heat is evaporation through oral and nasal cavities, therefore a dog can become overheated, especially in hot, humid conditions, says licensed veterinary medical technician Leslie Wereszczak who supervises the Small Animal Intensive Care at UTCVM. In general, your pet becomes uncomfortable in the heat before you do.

In addition to weather, other factors can contribute to heat stress and stroke in dogs; lack of cool water, being tethered, strenuous exercise, such as playing catch or running (many dogs will keep going to please their owners), confinement to small areas without access to shade, and excitement. Older dogs and dogs that are overweight or have a medical condition are also more susceptible to the heat, says Wereszczak. And it goes without saying, never, ever leave a dog in a car, even with windows partially open. Wereszczak advises owners who want to exercise or spend time outdoors with their pets to do so in the morning or evening hours when temperatures are a little cooler. Trimming a dogs hair (never to the skin) will help keep it cooler. Any sunscreen product should be labeled specifically for use on animals.

Even healthy pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stress, and sunburn. Since your pet cant tell you its overheating, be attentive. According to Wereszczak, Signs of possible heat stress or stroke include incessant panting, distress or anxiousness, weakness, extremely red or brick-colored membranes (not pink) in the mouth or nasal cavity, warm to the touch, and an elevated temperature. It is considered quite dangerous and potentially life threatening when a dogs temperature reaches 104.5 degrees. A dogs normal temperature is a few degrees above that of humans.

If you suspect your pet is suffering from possible heat stress or stroke, cool the animal down by putting it in an air-conditioned environment or shaded area if possible. Hose it off with cool water, encourage the dog to drink water, and seek veterinary care. Dogs who have experienced heat stress must be carefully observed afterwards; problems can occur 42-72 hours later that can be serious or even fatal, such as kidney failure, circulatory problems or brain damage. Contact your veterinarian.



Posted: 06-28-12 Viewed: 8169 times

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Sandra Harbison
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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