Vet Blog

Prevent Heat Exhaustion/Stroke Through Summer Pet Safety Measures

May 03, 2022

The term muggy doesn't even come close to describing St. Pete's summer months.

The heat and humidity combined make us all feel continuously sticky and uncomfortable and our pets are no exception. With the rising temperatures of Florida summers, it's critical that pet owners stay in front of potential heat-related health issues. With our summer pet safety tactics, you and your pet can sit back, relax, and take the muggy experience in stride.

Inadequate Adaptations

Cats and dogs sweat through their paw pads in an attempt to regulate internal body temperature. They also pant to cool down, but neither adaptation can fully ease symptoms caused by the heat. As a result, pet owners are responsible for making lifestyle and home environment changes that put their pet's safety and comfort first.

Say No to Noon

If the conditions outside are too hot for you to handle or endure, they are definitely unsafe for your pet. Sizzling concrete pathways, asphalt, and gravel make it very dangerous for sensitive paws. Be careful not to expose your pet to these hot surfaces during the hottest parts of the day. Instead, opt for walks around dawn and dusk. Check their feet for any scratches, cuts, or blisters.

Mind Their Breathing

Excessive panting will likely be the first sign that your pet is hot. If they start to pant, they need an immediate break from the sun, preferably in a deep pocket of shade or inside with the AC cranking. Offer plenty of cool, fresh water. You can also apply cool compresses directly to their stomach, underarms, groin, and backside to quickly cool them down. Do not use freezer packs, as rapid cooldowns can cause shock.

Risk Factors

Brachycephalic breeds, like Pugs or Bulldogs, have short or flat faces that make panting incredibly difficult. Overweight animals also have problems breathing, and may not be able to self-regulate their rising temperature until related symptoms get out of hand. Please be extra careful when providing summer pet safety rules to super young and senior pets, and those with health conditions.

Threats to Summer Pet Safety

A pet owner's approach to summer pet safety must include an understanding of the dangerous red flags that indicate a pet's health is in danger. Heat exhaustion can rapidly lead to heatstroke, and can present these symptoms:

  • Disorientation
  • Drooling
  • Pacing
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Rectal temperature is 105-degrees or higher
  • Increased heart rate and respiration

If you notice any of the above, please act quickly and seek emergency help. Left alone, heatstroke can cause organ damage and death. Oxygen therapy and IV fluids will be necessary to restore blood flow during heatstroke.

Friendly Reminders

Even if the temperature is a cool 75-degrees, the mercury can quickly climb above 100-degrees in a parked car. Plan ahead and always be sure that your pet is never subjected to a dangerous heat index during the hottest parts of the day. Invest in some fun indoor-only activities, or supply them with a cool kiddie pool in the backyard.

If you have additional questions or concerns about our summer pet safety recommendations or want to check on your pet's overall health before the summer months hit their peak, give us a call at (727) 381-3900. Our team at Bayshore Animal Hospital & Avian Practice is always here for you!

Stay safe, St. Pete!