It’s Too Hot for Spot! Signs of Heat Stroke

BVC answers your FAQs about this potentially fatal condition

All Summer long, the ARL has been sharing advice during our TOO HOT FOR SPOT campaign on how to

heat stroke

Never leave your pet alone in a parked car on a warm day- even with the windows cracked. It’s just TOO HOT FOR SPOT!

keep your pet safe in the warmer months. This week, we focus on identifying the symptoms of, and how to prevent heat stroke in your pet.

When temperatures begin to rise, so do concerns about animal safety. Even when the thermometer dips below 80 degrees, the threat for heat stroke still exists. Fortunately, pet owners who take the proper precautions can greatly reduce the risks of this potentially fatal condition.

Want to learn more? Boston Veterinary Care (BVC) answers some of your most FAQs:

Q. What is heat stroke?

A. Heat stroke is a serious condition caused by your pet’s body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. Immediate medical attention by a veterinarian is required.

Q. What makes cats and dogs susceptible to heat stroke?

A: Pets don’t sweat the way humans do, which makes them unable to cool their bodies efficiently in the heat. If their core body temperature rises too high (typically 104 degrees or higher), they run the risk of going into shock or organ failure.

Q. Which symptoms should I look for when trying to diagnose heat stroke in my pet?

A: More obvious symptoms of potential heatstroke in cats and dogs include: difficulty breathing, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. More subtle symptoms include: heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, excessive thirst, lethargy.

Q. Is there anything I can do until my pet receives medical attention?

A: While you wait for assistance, apply cool wet towels to the groin and “underarm” areas. If your pet is alert enough, try having them slowly sip cold water. Even if your pet begins to appear better or more alert, you should still make an emergency visit to your pet’s veterinarian as only they will be able to diagnose whether or not your pet is suffering from heat stroke.

Q. How can I protect my cat or dog from getting heat stroke altogether?

A: Prevention is always your best bet. On hot days, leave your pet at home in a cool humidity and temperature-regulated room and keep them hydrated with a bowl of cold water accessible at all times. If your pet must be outdoors, find a shady spot with ample air flow and limit exercise to the morning or evening hours when temperatures are at their coolest.

Finally, never leave your pet alone in a parked car—even with the air conditioner on or the windows cracked. On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise above 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes, which is why it is the most common cause of deadly heat stroke. It’s just TOO HOT FOR SPOT!

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention from a veterinarian.

For more warm weather pet safety tips, visit arlboston.org/summer-safety