Heat Stress and your pet!

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Warm weather is finally here in western New York! Some are rejoicing in the heat and basking in the sun’s golden warmth, while others of us are seeking shade and the air conditioned comforts of the indoors as much as possible.  During these hot summer days it is important to be mindful of our 4 legged companions as even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat.

Summer Safety Tips

  • Make sure there is adequate shade all day long for your dog if it is outside on a sunny, hot day.

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  • Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.  Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.
  • Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.
  • Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.
  • Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.  Don’t let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly. Never leave your dog unattended in water or around a pool where they may accidentally fall in and be unable to get back out of the water.


Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat.

Early Stages:

  • Heavy panting.                                             •Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.                                    •Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:

  • White or blue gums.                                                  •Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
  • Uncontrollable urination or defecation.          •Labored, noisy breathing.
  • Shock.

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If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down. Applying rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads will help to cool the pet in less advanced cases.  With advanced cases of heat stress it is important to cool the pet as quickly as possible.  Cold water baths and fans are usually the quickest way to cool your pet. Check your dog’s temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog’s temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process. If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There can be long term side effects from heat stroke in your pet so it is a good ideal to talk with your veterinarian if your pet has suffered from heat stroke.