As August wears on, we continue to experience record heat waves in Georgia. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in your pets. Read on to find more information about the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, what to do, and fun ways to help beat the heat!
*Please note this information is not a substitution for professional veterinary advice. Please consult with your pet’s veterinarian regarding their individual needs.
Heat Exhaustion Signs and Symptoms
Excessive heat can affect all of your dog’s major body systems. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. Be on the lookout for the following signs of heat exhaustion:
- Heavy panting and rapid breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Dry mucous membranes (i.e., gums and nostrils)
- Bright red gums and tongue
- Skin that’s hot to the touch
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty maintaining balance
If these signs are present, move your dog indoors or into shade. Offer small sips of cool (not cold!) water. Continue to monitor your pet for additional signs of heat stroke, and contact a veterinary professional if needed.
Heat Stroke Signs and Symptoms
As heat exhaustion progresses, dogs can experience heat stroke. If your pet displays any of the following signs and symptoms, contact an emergency veterinary professional immediately.
- Pale mucous membranes with white or blue gums
- Very rapid heart rate
- Drop in blood pressure
- Worsening dehydration
- Dilated pupils
- Irregular pulse
- Muscle tremors
- Extreme lethargy and unwillingness to move
- Urinating or defecating uncontrollably
Help Beat the Heat
There are many ways you can help your pet stay cool as summer fades into fall! Here are a few ideas to help keep your pets safe and feeling their best.
- Limit outdoor playtime, training sessions, or walks during peak heat hours (10:00 am – 4:00 pm). Try sticking to early morning or late evening walks, if possible.
- Provide access to fresh, cool water at all times.
- If you must be outdoors, find time to take water breaks in the shade.
- Swap outdoor playtime for an indoor activity. Check out food puzzles, snuffle mats, and Kong filler recipes for enrichment.
- Offer cold treats such as a spoonful of yogurt, ice cubes (be mindful of dog size and choking hazards), bits of frozen fruit or vegetables, or even a puppy popsicle!
Let us know in the comments how you’re keeping your pet cool this summer!