Home & Family
Protect Pets in the Summer Heat
6/29/2012 4:52:20 PM

As the "dog days of summer" begin, it seems like an appropriate time to remind pet owners that they are not the only ones affected by the Southwest Louisiana heat and humidity. Pets also face increased risk of heat stroke as the temperatures rise in July and August.

"Just like people, pets will naturally seek out methods to cool themselves off during hot weather,” says veterinarian Dr. Martha Briley, co-owner of Country Club Veterinary Clinic, opening this fall. "If pets are housed outside, it's important to provide them with the resources to do so, such as a shaded area and an abundant supply of water.”

Pets most susceptible to heat stroke are animals with shortened muzzles such as bulldogs, pugs or Persian cats; overweight pets; those with thicker coats; and those with respiratory problems. Dr. Briley says older animals are also at increased risk. "They are weaker and might experience an adverse response to increased temperatures more quickly than younger dogs. The same goes for kittens and puppies who have not yet reached maturity.”

Dr. Christine Mocklin, Country Club Veterinary Clinic co-owner, reminds us that heat stroke is a condition that affects other pet species, as well. "I have treated heat stroke in numerous pet rabbits and pet birds that are housed outside. I've also seen guinea pigs, ferrets, and other small mammals that people bring outside 'for just a little while to get some sun' get over-heated and quickly decline. All of these little guys are very susceptible to high temperatures. The best place for them during the hot summer is indoors in the air conditioning."

She says pets will tell you by their actions if they are affected too strongly by hot weather, so it is important to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. If your pet has been out in the heat and exhibits frantic breathing, a bright red tongue, lethargy, vomiting, or staggering, itmay besuffering from heat stroke. In severe cases you will notice your pet's lips begin to turn pale blue or gray.

If you notice any of these symptoms, Dr. Briley says to move the pet into the shade or indoors with air conditioning immediately. "Apply cool – not cold – water to your animal to gradually lower their body temperature and seek immediate veterinary care.”

She offers these additional tips for keeping your pets safe in the summer heat:
  • Provide access to shade at all times. If possible, try to keep them indoors during the hottest times of the day.
  • Always supply your pet with fresh water and make sure the dish or water bottle is out of the sun. Put ice in to keep it cooler, longer.
  • Limit activity when temperatures are high. Walk dogs in the early morning or late hours of the day when the sun is least harsh, and bring water along for them.
  • Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning their paws on hot pavement.
  • Pets can get sunburn too. Sunscreen can be used depending on the location of the sensitive skin. Use care in picking the product as cats and dogs are prone to licking themselves and should not ingest most lotions. Only use sunscreens that are specifically labeled for use in dogs and cats.Do not use sunscreen on other types of pets.

Dr. Mocklin says the most important pet safety rule to remember is to never, ever leave your pet in the car when temperatures are high, even with the windows open. "The number one cause of heat stroke in dogs is being left in a hot car. The internal heat of a car can quickly increase 40degrees or more above the outside air temperature, especially in direct sunlight. No pet owner should ever take this risk. The best thing for your pet may be to leave him/her at home.”

Both veterinarians agreed that if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke or exhaustion, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

For more information about the new Country Club Veterinary Clinic, follow the construction progress on their Facebook page.
Posted by: Kristy Armand | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Pets  |  Summer

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