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Pet Heat Exhaustion Treatment from our Solomons Veterinarian

Dogs cool themselves by panting to inhale fresh air as quickly as possible. Cats perspire through their paw pads to reduce body temperature. When your pet's ability to remain cool can't keep up with intense heat to which they are exposed and can't escape, they will begin suffering from heat exhaustion. Pets not provided access to a cooler environment can develop heat stroke, a potentially deadly medical emergency requiring immediate treatment by your veterinarian in Solomons.

Pet Heatstroke

Signs of Pet Heat Exhaustion

Heavy panting and drooling are an initial sign that your dog may be getting too hot. Cats tend to be restless, drool or frantically groom themselves in an attempt to cool off. Other pet heat exhaustion warning signs include:

  • Rapid breathing (some cats may pant following rigorous physical activity but this does not necessarily mean they are suffering heat exhaustion)
  • Extreme mouth and tongue redness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling/unsteady gait

Risk factors for heat exhaustion involve cats and dogs that are less than eight weeks old, over seven years old or overweight. Brachycephalic dog breeds (dogs with "smashed" noses) such as Shih Tzus, Boxers, Bulldogs and Pekingese cannot bring in air by panting as efficiently as other dog breeds and are prone to hyperthermia. Pets with dark, thick coats also retain heat more than pets with lighter fur shades and thinner coats.

If pet heat exhaustion symptoms continue without treatment, signs of heat stroke can emerge rapidly without warning. Stupor, bloody diarrhea, panting forcefully, seizures and organ failure means the animal's core body temperature has reached as high as 108°F., cells are dying and the animal's brain is no longer receiving enough oxygen to continue functioning. 

Emergency Treatment for Pet Heat Exhaustion

Pets brought into our veterinary medical center for heat exhaustion receive one or more of the following treatments from our Solomons veterinarian:

  • Immediate cooling of the animal via heat conduction and evaporation (wetting the animal's fur and paws, placing the animal on wet towels, putting a fan near the animal)
  • IV fluid therapy for restoring blood volume
  • Monitoring of body temperature every few minutes
  • Administration of antibiotics to reduce risk of bacterial translocation and sepsis

Depending on how well an overheated pet recovers, your vet may want to keep the animal for 24-hour observation to ensure vitals have stabilized and the animal has not suffered any permanent organ damage.

During the long, hot days of summer, always make sure your pet has continuous access to fresh water, shade and fans or air conditioning in case your pet does become overheated. Of course, you should never leave your pet in a car for any length of time. Even if the windows are down, a car's interior temperature can increase 20°F within minutes, especially when sunlight is hitting the outside of the car. If you can't take pets with you when you leave your car, leave them at home where it is cool and comfortable.

Schedule an Appointment with Your Solomons Veterinarian

To learn more about signs of pet heat exhaustion or to schedule an appointment with your Solomons veterinarian, call Solomons Veterinary Medical Center today a (410) 326-4300.