Warning Signs of Heat Illness during the Dog Days

Previously some of the basic care of dogs and cats during these hot summer months were reviewed.  But how do we assess the onset and severity of heat related illnesses in our pets.  There is a broad range of  conditions varying from mild overheating which may only require rest and shelter to full blown heat stroke which can result in life threatening complications. Some of the initial signs of overheating in pets are:

  • panting
  • increased salivation
  • restlessness
  • loss of appetite

These signs may be of a short term nature and resolve rapidly  with the removal of your dog or cat from the current environment to a cooler room.  Providing plenty of water is also essential  since dogs in particular  lose abundant water from panting. If the mild distress does not seem to resolve within a matter of 10 minutes or so it may indicate a more severe heat stress issue.  If the condition worsens, your pet may show increased anxiety resulting in even more rapid breathing.  The restlessness may increase and the resultant activity and stress can act to raise your pet’s temperature even higher.  This is known as a positive feed back condition and can increase the risk to your pet’s health considerably.  If you suspect that this is the case it is important to seek emergency veterinary care immediately.  This may allow you take measures at home to decrease the severity of the problem or may encourage you to seek out an urgent care facility. Reducing the body temperature of your pet before transporting him or her can provide a life saving measure when affected with heat related disease.  Next we will review some of the effective home therapies for reducing your pet’s temperature before transportation to an urgent care facitlity.