Heatstroke in Dogs and Cats

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Heatstroke is a medical emergency that occurs all too frequently in our fur-covered friends. 

Cats and Dogs do not have an effective mechanism to cool themselves during warm weather. If their core body temperature rises to 105 degrees F or above, they need to be seen by a vet immediately. Get a good rectal thermometer to take your pet's temperature and practice using it. Normal temps are typically around 101.5F.

Heatstroke can cause many medical issues including swelling of the brain and kidney failure.

The most common cause of heatstroke is leaving a pet in a parked car. Even with the window cracked on only a moderately-warm day, internal temperatures can rise to dangerous levels quickly. Best to leave your pet at home with access to shade and plenty of fresh water to drink.

Pets with short faces, such as Pugs and Persian cats, or obese pets are more likely to succumb to heat stroke.

Panting is usually the first demonstrable sign of heat stroke. Some pets may vomit or have diarrhea. Pets may become disoriented and lethargic.  

If you suspect your pet is a victim of heatstroke, remove him/her from the warm environment immediately. You can attempt to cool your pet with wet towels wrapped around its body, especially in the armpits, in the groin, and on the back of the neck. Transport to the nearest veterinary facility immediately.

Even if your pet appears to recover, many of the complications of heat stroke do not appear for several days and prompt veterinary care is warranted.