Your pets are just as vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat stroke as their humans. You sweat to keep yourself from overheating. But how do your four-legged friends keep their cool?
How Your Pets Sweat
Dogs and other pets don’t sweat through their skin and fur. Their sweat glands are located in their foot pads. They cool themselves through their paws and by panting through their noses and mouths. (Be sure you don’t muzzle your dog! They need to freely pant.)
It’s especially important to protect their paws, so avoid walking your dog on dangerously hot surfaces like sand (at the beach), concrete, or asphalt as they can severely burn their foot pads. Before taking your dog for a walk, place your hand or bare foot on the walking surface for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your pet! Opt for cool grass or shady areas.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Per veterinarians Drs. Foster and Smith, signs of heat stroke in dogs include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- Thick, sticky saliva
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
Heat stroke can progress to seizures, coma, cardiac arrest, and death.
Fit Tip: Just like for humans, be cognizant of your pet’s environment, don’t let them stay in the heat for long periods (that includes the car), and be sure they drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Freeze water in plastic bottles, or place ice in resealable plastic bags and wrap them in a towel or tube sock, then let your pet lay on them. You might want to do the same to cool off! 😀 (We used to do this for our bunny and she loved it!)