Pets are also feeling the heat this summer. This is how you can protect them

Veterinarian Dr. Rebecca Jackson was working in a mountain town in Alberta a few summers ago when a patient came in showing signs of heat stroke.

The dog had just had a long day of walking and was disoriented, vomiting, panting heavily and “very, very weak,” she recalled. “He had a very high heart rate, he had low blood pressure. His body temperature was elevated.”

He was immediately given intravenous fluids and wrapped in cold towels. Isopropyl alcohol was applied to their paw pads for an evaporative cooling effect. She was also given an anti-nausea injection to prevent further dehydration from vomiting.

The story has a happy ending: The dog’s body temperature dropped and he made a full recovery, Jackson said.

But it’s a reminder during these foggy, humid days of summer that humans aren’t the only ones feeling the heat, pets are too. And with even hotter days are expectedVeterinarians say it’s important to take precautions and watch for signs of trouble in your furry family members.

take care of his paws

Heat stroke may be top of mind for pet owners, as it is something that Human beings can also suffer. But burned paws are actually a more common injury during the summer, and one that can be easily overlooked, said Jackson, a professor at the University of Calgary’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Imagine walking barefoot down a sidewalk or on a beach on a hot summer day, and you’ll have an idea of ​​what our four-legged friends go through.

Pets are also feeling the heat this summer. This is how you can protect them hot weather
A man pulls a cart with three dogs during a hot spell in downtown Vancouver on July 5. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“We forget that they are unique in that their paw pads touch the ground as they walk,” he said. “Black pavement in particular can draw a lot of heat and cause footpad burns.”

Severe footpad burns can be difficult to heal because the surface of the footpads is relatively avascular, meaning it lacks a blood supply. On very hot days, consider keeping your pet indoors and taking her for walks only in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler, Jackson said.

If you’re not sure, the American Kennel Club suggests placing the back of your hand on the asphalt on hot days; If you can’t hold it comfortably for 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws.

Why can pets overheat?

If you take your pet outside on a hot day, watch for signs of heat stroke, which occurs when the body can’t cope with external heat.

As humans, we regulate our body temperature in part through sweat: the evaporation of sweat from the surface of our skin removes excess heat and cools us down. But our pets do not have sweat glands distributed throughout their bodies in the same way.

In dogs and cats, sweat glands are found primarily on the pads of the paws. It’s such a small surface area that it doesn’t help much with temperature regulation, according to Dr. Sarah Machell, a licensed veterinarian and medical director of Vetster, a telehealth app that connects pet owners with veterinarians for virtual consultations.

That’s why our pets pant when it’s hot: it’s their way of cooling down.

Pets are also feeling the heat this summer. This is how you can protect them dr sarah machell and dog
Dr. Sarah Machell is a licensed veterinarian and the medical director of Vetster, a telehealth app that connects pet owners with veterinarians for virtual consultations. (Courtesy of Vetter)

“[Panting is] the only way that pets, dogs in particular, see this, they can actually evaporate water from any surface to help lower their body temperature,” Machell said.

“So their ability and their tolerance for heat is much, much lower than that of humans.”

To help your pets stay cool, make sure they have plenty of access to shade and that any exercise they do get is very moderate and slow-paced, Machell said. Keep them hydrated by carrying water bottles, taking frequent breaks, and encouraging them to drink.

Specialized cooling bandanas and vests can also keep your pets from overheating, Machell said.

Most pet owners know never to leave their pets alone in a car because of how quickly temperatures can rise indoors. Machell recommends planning ahead and bringing a second person with you who can walk the dog as you enter the store.

Signs of heat stroke

As with humans, it only takes a few degrees difference in your pet’s body temperature for the situation to escalate into dangerous territory.

A dog’s normal body temperature is in the range of 37.5 C to 39.2 C. When it rises above 41 C, the possibility of heat stroke becomes a major concern and there is a risk of multiple organ failure and death, said Dr. Matthew Richardson, a veterinarian at The Animal Clinic in Toronto and president-elect of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).

The higher it goes above that level and the longer it rises, the more serious the consequences, he said.

Pets are also feeling the heat this summer. This is how you can protect them france heat
A dog plays in a fountain in Lille, northern France, on Tuesday, as Europe sweltered under an extreme heat wave. Dogs have a limited ability to cope with heat because they don’t have prominent sweat glands. (Michel Spingler/The Associated Press)

It’s up to pet owners to pay attention when their pets are fighting.

“They can’t tell us when they feel overheated,” Richardson said. “So we have to go by symptoms, which can look like a lot of things.”

The OVMA has a list of signs and symptoms of heat stroke — and instructions on what to do if you think your pet has it.

Pet owners should also be aware that some animals are more vulnerable to heat stroke than others. The Humane Society of Toronto says These include animals with flat faces, such as pugs and Persian cats, as they can’t pant as effectively; elderly pets; overweight pets; and those with heart or lung disease.

A puppy would also be more prone to heat stroke than an adult dog, Richardson said.

stay cool indoors

Pets are also feeling the heat this summer. This is how you can protect them dr matthew richardson and bird
Dr. Matthew Richardson with the family’s lovebird, Teo. (Submitted by Matthew Richardson)

Heat stress can also be a problem for indoor pets if there is no air conditioning.

Machell suggests having multiple locations to access fresh water and adding ice cubes to the water or even using a water fountain, as running water can sometimes be more appealing to pets.

For pets like birds and guinea pigs, make sure the cage is out of direct sunlight, and you might want to put a fan on them, Richardson said.

For small mammals, you can also try creating a special place for them in their cage that retains a cooler temperature for longer than regular bedding.

“If you can find a piece of stone, tile, granite, something like that that’s cool, and you can stay in the shade so it stays cool, you can put it in their cages,” he said. “You can have this kind of cool area where they can go to try to find that cooler spot.”


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