Given the weather we have had in New England this spring, I have been a bit superstitious to invoke that elusive but highly anticipated next season. However, it actually looks like summer is going to make an appearance. With temperatures in the 80’s the last few days, a quick reminder is in order.
1. Best time to exercise pets outdoor is early in the morning or later at night. Avoid the heat of midday. Often pets don’t have an appreciation for their own limitation and will become overheated (hyperthermic) before they even realize it.
2. Don’t encourage more activity than your pet seems to want to do. Toy throwing, retrieving, active play, whether it is in or out of the house, can quickly cause overheating. Cats are as likely as our canine friends to work themselves up into a pant. Panting is a sign of overheating and the body’s attempt to lower body temperature.
3. If your pet is panting uncontrollably or seems anxious, he or she may be hyperthermic. Encourage water drinking, wet your pet down or immerse in a cool tub or pool which is usually very effective at lowering body temperature. Ice packs placed on the back of the neck at the base of the skull is also a good way to bring the body temperature down. Don’t delay as the pet’s anxiety can cause an increase in heart rate, respirations and further overheating.
4. As soon as the above first aid is in progress, call your veterinarian for additional information. The above signs are general and there many more subtle symptoms that can be important and will need to be dealt with.
Prevention is always the best approach to most disease conditions. Hyperthermia is no different. Recognizing the signs of hyperthermia and acting quickly and correctly is the most effective way to avoid serious injury. In the meantime, have fun and enjoy the summer!