The temperature is rising and so are the stakes for your pets!

With the spring weather in full effect and summer just a short time away, it is important to realize what this can mean for your furry family members and how to safeguard them from the dangers of summer.

Our doggy friends don’t deal with the heat in quite the same way that we do. They rely not so much on sweating as a means of cooling down, but panting, and insulation from the heat provide by their haircoat.

Panting is way that dogs can decrease their core body temperature. It circulates cooler air through their bodies to cool them down. Dogs can only sweat through their paw pads, so they don’t have the ability to efficiently cool themselves via sweating as we are accustomed to.

While we would never think of wearing a fur coat in the summer to stay cool, this is a big way in which our canine kiddos keep themselves cool and comfortable. Our pooche’s hair coat allows insulation from the brutal rays of the sun. The hairs also act to allow cooler air to flow along the surface of their skin providing extra cooling.

So how can we tell when our fur babies are in trouble from the effects of the sun?

We all know how we feel when we have been out in the sun too long. We are sweating profusely, we might feel achy and lightheaded, get a severe headache, and in some cases, get blurry vision or even lose consciousness.

Well our pets can feel the same way, only we can’t always recognize the signs and indications that they are in trouble and are suffering from heat exposure and possibly heat stroke
Some of the most common indicators that your fur baby may be in trouble from too much time in the heat are:

Excessive panting

bright red or pale gums

thick, sticky saliva

vomiting or diarrhea




Heatstroke can strike fast and the consequences can be deadly. it is important to recognize the signs your pet may be showing from heat exhaustion or heat stroke and to act fast. Time is important when your pet is in trouble!

  1. Remove your pet from the heat as soon as possible.
  2. Wet your pet thoroughly with cool water. Always refrain from icing your pet down. Cooling them too quickly can be as dangerous as the heat itself!
  3. Get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if they appear fine, the affects of overheating can often come later and can be devastating to your furry pal.

The affects of overheating can cause havoc in your pet and may require intensive measures to prevent and treat life-threatening consequences. Pet’s suffering from hyperthermia (heat stroke) often must be hospitalized for several days. They are treated with IV fluids to help cool the body and to treat shock and dehydration. They often need blood products to stop the severe inflammatory process created by the shock of a high temperature, and medications to prevent brain damage and severe infection from the shock to the system.

The best thing for your pets in the heat of the summer is to know how to prevent possible catastrophe from overexposure to the heat.

  1. Any pet with an underlying illness ( heart disease, obesity, respiratory problems or old age) should be kept out of the heat
  2. Brachycephalic (flat faced) pets, such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs, boston terriers are especially sensitive to the heat and should never be outside in the heat for an extended period of time.
  3. Provide fresh, cool water and shaded areas for your pet at all times. A small pool is an excellent idea for summer fun and cooling down!
  4. No animal should ever be kept in a hot car, no matter if the windows are down even if the temperature feels nice outside. The temperature inside a hot car can reach 30-40 degrees higher than the ambient temperature in just a matter of minutes!
  5. Avoid running or jogging with your dog in high temperatures. Not only can they succumb to heat stroke, but they can get severe burns to their paw pads if running on hot surfaces like pavement or asphalt.
  6. Don’t shave your short haired pet’s too short and keep your long-haired pets un-matted. Cutting the hair too short can result in sunburn. Mats in long haired dogs prevent the hairs from circulating the air across their body.

Prevention is always best and we all want to prevent our fur kids from suffering in any way during the heat. If you have any question about protecting your pooch in the throes of a Louisiana summer, please contact your local veterinarian.

Stay Safe – Dr. Alisha Spivey