Heatstroke is a serious, often fatal, condition in which a dog or cat’s core body temperature is way higher than it should be. It most commonly occurs in the summer on days with high humidity. Unfortunately, this condition is not common knowledge and can have a very rapid onset. Puppies, smooshed-face animals, and older pets are among those most commonly affected.
The most common symptoms of heatstroke are excessive panting, weakness, a cherry-red tongue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Now, panting is a normal, healthy part of dogs keeping cool. Excessive panting, i.e. we physically cannot get enough air, especially with a bright, red tongue, are cause for concern. Now, in cats, ANY panting is a cause for concern! If you see these symptoms in your pet, it is time to take action!
You think your pet has heatstroke, it is time to see a veterinarian. Heatstroke can cause the body to go into shock very, very quickly. This is life-threatening and requires medical attention. What can you do to help or prevent it? Animals need breaks from the heat just like we do. Having a cool place in the shade or indoors, especially with cool water, can help tremendously. Kiddie pools full of hose water work great for this.
Small drinks of cool, not cold, water help a lot too. Guzzling water can upset the stomach and cause vomiting, but small sips helps keep heatstroke at bay. Again, if you think your animal has heatstroke they need to see a veterinarian! Not only can they check their internal temperature, but they can also give cool fluids in the vein and perform other life-saving procedures!