Health

Heatstroke

Don’t Let It Happen to your Pet

It’s a warm summer day and you’re on the way to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread.  In the parking lot you pass an older model Plymouth with a poodle panting inside.

You should:

  1. Smile and acknowledge the cute pet
  2. Run into the grocery store and page the dog’s owner
  3. Buy the dog a treat

If you choose “B”, then you choose wisely.  The panting poodle may be minutes from death – a victim of heatstroke.  You need to get the poodle out of the car and reduce its body temperature.

Every year, thousands of pets die from overexposure to heat.  It’s usually because people leave their pets in cars while they shop or run a quick errand.  It doesn’t have to be extremely hot outdoors for a pet to suffer heatstroke inside a car.

Leaving a pet inside a closed automobile for just 15 to 20 minutes is risky on an 80 degree day as temperatures can quickly rise to 120 degrees Fahrenheit – enough heat to kill a pet.  Even 10 minutes inside a hot car is enough to cause exhaustive heatstroke in cats and small dogs.  Hamsters, guinea pigs, and birds have even less of a chance of survival.

An Open Window? No Good

Leaving windows wide open in the car is not the answer.  Additional dangers come with that option.  Your pet may jump out of the vehicle and become a traffic casualty.  Also leaving the windows open “just a crack” isn’t enough to prevent heatstroke.

Heatstroke can be prevented quite easily if you follow one Petland Rule: Leave your pet at home when running errands in the summer months.

If it is not possible to leave your pet at home, then take these precautions to combat heatstroke during short trips:

  • Run errands during cooler times of the day, dawn or dusk
  • Leave car windows down, and protect with pet-secure window screens that allow maximum air flow
  • Carry a gallon jug of fresh, cool water from home along with a bowl from which your pet may drink
  • Check on your pet’s health every few minutes

Signs of Heatstroke

Heatstroke in a pet is very easy to diagnose.  Some first signs are quite visible.  They include excessive panting, salivation, and a racing pulse.  The pet also will have a high body temperature and may even vomit.  In latter stages of heatstroke, a pet lapses into a coma.  At this point, many pets suffer brain damage and die.

Emergency Treatment

When your pet experiences some of the warning signs of heatstroke, Petland advises trying to lower your pet’s body temperature on the way to the veterinarian.

Submerging or pouring cold water over your pet’s body can help.  Ice packs, if available, can be used, too.  You should also rinse your pet’s mouth with cool water, offering only small amounts to drink.

Educate on the Spot

Petland is asking pet owners to carry copies of the above card, stashing them in wallet, purse, and glove compartment to use when a potentially dangerous pet-heatstroke situation presents itself.  If you see a cat or dog locked in a car and you can’t locate the car’s owner, then Petland suggests you tuck the information card under the car’s windshield wiper to warn the owner of possible dangers.

Every summer, many caring pet owners return to their cars to find a best friend needlessly lost to heatstroke.  With this free informative card, Petland hopes to prevent this from happening.