What Are the Risks of Extreme Heat to Pets?

Posted on August 16, 2023 by Pinnacle Vet Clinic

As temperatures continue to rise during the scorching summer months, it’s not just humans who need to take precautions to beat the heat. Our beloved four-legged companions—our pets—also face the perils of extreme heat. Just as we safeguard ourselves from the sweltering sun, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks and take proactive steps to ensure the well-being of our furry friends.

1. Dehydration and Heatstroke

Dehydration and heatstroke are among the most serious risks posed by extreme heat to pets. Dogs and cats cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as humans, making them more susceptible to overheating. Signs of heat-related distress may include excessive panting, drooling, rapid heartbeat, lethargy, and even collapse. In severe cases, heatstroke can be fatal. To prevent this, always provide ample fresh water and a shaded, cool resting area for your pet. Avoid strenuous activities during peak heat hours, and never leave your pet in a parked car, as temperatures inside can skyrocket to deadly levels in just minutes.

2. Paw Pad Burns

Walking our pets on hot surfaces like asphalt, concrete, or sand can lead to painful burns on their paw pads. These surfaces absorb and retain heat, causing discomfort and potential injury. To safeguard your pet’s paws, stick to grassy areas whenever possible and take walks during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

3. Respiratory Problems

Many pets, especially brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Persian cats, already have difficulty breathing due to their short snouts. High temperatures can exacerbate these breathing issues, putting them at greater risk of distress. Keep these pets indoors in air-conditioned spaces and provide plenty of ventilation.

4. Sunburn

Pets with light-colored fur, thin coats, or exposed skin areas are vulnerable to sunburn, which can lead to pain, discomfort, and even skin cancer over time. Apply pet-safe sunscreen to areas with less fur, such as the nose and ears, and consider providing them with light clothing or seeking shade during peak sunlight hours.

5. Overexertion

Playtime and exercise are essential for pets’ mental and physical well-being. However, in extreme heat, these activities can quickly lead to exhaustion and dehydration. Opt for shorter, more frequent play sessions and avoid rigorous activities when temperatures soar.

Emergency Help in Case Of Heatstroke

If your pet becomes too overheated, it can suffer heatstroke. If your pet is experiencing heatstroke, you should seek professional care immediately. Please call (417) 451-2533 to make an emergency appointment with Pinnacle Vet Clinic.

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