KSR Pet Care takes the health and well-being of your pets to heart. Heat and pets do not go well together. Our staff is aware of the risks and signs of hyperthermia, or heat stroke. It's important to be aware of the signs and effects of heat on a dog as well as cat. If needed, our dog walker will decide upon his/her own discretion to shorten the walk (not the visit) and do playtime indoors so your pet can also sufficiently cool down under our supervision. Or, we will take a break in the middle of the visit, return inside for a couple of minutes and then return back into the heat. When it is 80°F or more it is considered too hot for animals to be outside for too long a period of time.
Panting through the tongue is a pet's way of sweating but the higher the temperature and/or humidity, the less effective panting becomes for both cats and dogs. Short-nosed breeds like pugs are especially inefficient at cooling themselves.
Below is a list of guidelines that our team follows to avoid running into issues with hyperthermia, both with themselves and with the pets in our care:
- Carry a lot of water bottles and/or sports drinks in your car for yourself to stay hydrated. Coffee/caffeine is not recommended since it increases dehydration.
- Drink fluids regularly to stay hydrated. If you get a headache, drink more.
- Wear a hat to avoid sunburn (or worse).
- Wear sunglasses.
- Walk in the shade whenever possible.
- If you notice excessive panting in the dog you are walking, return a couple of minutes early as to watch the dog cool down sufficiently before leaving him/her alone.
- Always let the dog drink after the walk. If the dog is already panting upon arrival, let him drink before the walk; however, do not let him/her drink too fast or too cold water. Small amounts at a time and just regular tap water is fine.
- When crated or leaving with no access to water, definitely let the dog drink before and after the walk.
- A grass surface is better on the dog's paw pads than asphalt. Asphalt and concrete absorb heat, so alternate with grassy areas and shaded sidewalks/asphalt.
- Older and younger pets are especially susceptible to heat stroke.
- In cases when a pet is being left in a home where the A/C is switched off, make sure there is access to a cool room, such as a basement. If not, check with the owner about the A/C to see if it can be switched on with their permission.
- No dog should be left in a car unattended, not even with the engine and A/C still left on. When you see a dog in an unattended car, it's our civil duty to call the authorities.
Signs of Hyperthermia
- Bright red gums and tongue; or worse, blue/gray and dry mouth (pink or black gums is normal)
- Anxious expression
- Excessive loud panting
- High fever of 104 degrees F or higher (normal is 101.5 - 102.4)
- Warm, dry skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive drooling
- Imbalanced, wobbling or immobile
Your first action should be to cool the pet down. Here are some other first aid tips:
- Bring inside to a cool area, cool floor.
- Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog's paw pads.
- Apply ice packs in towel to the groin area, under arms and legs.
- Hose down with water, but not ice cold water; water that is too cold water could cause an opposite effect.
- Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water, but avoid food and large quantities of drinking.
- Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes. Do not mix with products other than water.
Check temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog's temperature has stabilized at between 100-102 degrees F, you can stop the cool-down process.
If you cannot get the pet cooled down within 20 to 30 minutes and/or you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke (such as shock, unwillingness to move, blue/gray gums, lethargy), take the dog/cat to the veterinarian.