The summer heat is enveloping New Jersey, and Asbury Park is no exception. It’s hot out! And your dogs and cats think so too. We all like to beat the heat in the summer time and it’s important to also keep your pets safe and cool. In doing so, you can help them avoid a serious condition called heat stroke.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition when the body’s temperature rapidly rises and is unable to compensate and cool down. This rise in temperature can affect just about every organ in the body – including the lungs, kidneys, brain, liver, muscles, intestines, and coagulation system – and if not treated, can ultimately cause multiple-organ failure and death. 

What causes heat stroke

Heat stroke can be caused by a combination of factors that typically involve exposure to high temperatures and humidity. Keeping your dog or cat in an enclosed space without adequate ventilation (such as a car, attic, or garage), excessive physical activity especially during hot weather, and lack of access to shade and water can all lead to a rapid rise in body temperature which can result in heat stroke. 

Who's at risk?

Certain breeds of dogs known as brachycephalic or short-nosed breeds (i.e. Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Boston Terriers) are more susceptible to heat stroke. The airway anatomy of these breeds does not allow them to dissipate heat efficiently and they can quickly become overheated. Some other risk factors for heat stroke include thick hair coats, old age, and obesity. 

How do I know if my pet is experiencing heat stroke? 

  • Heavy panting/heavy breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abnormal gum color (blue/purple/bright red)
  • Disorientation
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Bruising
  • Seizures

What can I do if my pet has heat stroke?

Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. What you can do is promptly start the cooling process – move your pet into a cool area with air-conditioning or shade. You can apply cool or room temperature water to your dog’s body and place a fan in front of them. Do not use ice or cold water as this can actually prevent heat loss and make things worse. You can offer a small amount of cool water for your pet to drink but do not force any water into their mouth. Bring your dog to City by the Sea Vet or the ER for evaluation and continued treatment. Dogs with heat stroke are typically treated with intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen, medications, and supportive care. 

How can I prevent heat stroke?

Here are some tips to keep your four-legged friends cool in the summer and avoid a trip to the ER for heat stroke:

  • Never leave your dog or cat in a parked car. Even on mild days (think 70 degrees F), temperatures in enclosed areas can rise very quickly. One of the most common causes of heat stroke in dogs in leaving them in a confined vehicle.
  • Keep walks short and avoid physical activity during the hottest times of the day. Early in the morning and later in the evening are best for walks.
  • Keep dogs and cats inside as much as possible. When outside, supervise them and provide them with a cool, fully shaded area and plenty of access to water.  Consider early morning or late-night walks for your dog.
  • If you have a brachycephalic breed (short-nosed breeds, like Pugs and Shih Tzus) or breeds with thick coats (like Huskies or Malamutes), take extra precautions in the warm weather and be vigilant for signs of overheating.

If you think your pet is experiencing symptoms of heat stroke near Asbury Park, New Jersey contact us immediately or if we are not available bring your pet directly to the ER. These emergencies should not wait!

– Dr. Coughlin, Urgent Care

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