During these hot and humid days, it is important to remember that we need to keep our pets cool and comfortable. Increased environmental temperatures or humidity can lead to heatstroke, defined as an increase of the core body temperature over 106 degrees farenheit. This is more commonly seen in pets left in cars (regardless of whether the windows are open or not), pets in left in yards with no shade, and pets that are exercised during warm times of the day. In addition, being overweight, old/young in age, and having a thick coat can also contribute to development of heatstroke.

Common signs of heatstroke that may be noted by owners include increased breathing rate, dark gums, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe cases can result in distressed breathing, collapse, seizures, spontaneous internal bleeding, and fluid accumulation in the lungs.

If you suspect your pet may have heatstroke, place cool water on their coat and take them immediately to a veterinarian. Early and aggressive management is essential in providing a better prognosis. Your veterinarian will decide how to best manage your pet’s heatstroke; it may include bloodwork to monitor organ function, intravenous fluids to cool down their internal temperature and possibly blood transfusions.

So, while heatstroke can be managed, prevention is always best. Never leave your pet in a warm car (even with the windows open), always walk your dogs early in the day or late in the evening, and always provide a cool and shaded place to rest.