While having your furry friend chase balls on a summer day may seem harmless, the unthinkable can happen and your pet can collapse from heat exhaustion. Seemingly fine one moment, your pet appears to overheat in the blink of an eye. Keep calm during this terrifying situation, and safely and quickly lower your beloved companion’s body temperature by following these steps:
Step 1: Bring your pet indoors into an air-conditioned building — Take your pet to the coolest place that you can find nearby to provide a cool, ambient temperature.
Step 2: Run a cool—not cold—bath — If your pet is in and out of consciousness, ensure their head remains above water. A cool bath will be more beneficial at reducing your pet’s body temperature than an ice bath since extreme cold causes vasoconstriction, where the blood vessels in the extremities constrict, and the overheated blood is shunted back to your pet’s core, actually raising their body temperature. By running cool water over your pet, you also help heat evaporate, rather than trapping it around their body, as you would using wet towels.
Step 3: Point a high-powered fan at your pet — Proper ventilation will further dissipate heat and help cool your furry pal.
Step 4: Check your pet’s temperature every five minutes — Once your pet’s body temperature reaches 103 degrees, stop the cooling process. If you continue until their temperature reaches a normal level—100 to 102 degrees—you could inadvertently cause hypothermia by cooling your pet too much.
Step 5: Rush your pet to our veterinary hospital — After a heat exhaustion or heatstroke episode, your pet needs veterinary care. While not always immediately obvious but detectable on blood work, organ damage can occur if your pet remains too hot for too long. Once at our hospital, we can evaluate your best friend’s condition and form a treatment plan, which may include monitoring and intravenous fluid therapy or blood transfusions if the situation is critical. Regardless of how well you cooled your pet at home, a veterinary visit is crucial to detect hidden organ damage or other issues.
If your pet happens to suffer from a heat exhaustion episode, they are more at risk for future heat-related issues. Watch your furry friend carefully during hot weather, and always keep our number handy in case of a heat emergency. Please contact us if your pet has a heat exhaustion episode or for any other heat-related questions.