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Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot! – Pets and Summer Heat #memwx

Posted 07.17.15 by Claudia G. Mangum, DVM

As we are sure you have heard (or felt!)- this weekend is supposed to really heat up. Highs are almost at 100 degrees while the heat index is well over… reaching 109!

As the national weather service puts out heat advisories, we often think about out elderly family members and those less fortunate that may not have access to air conditioners, but please do not over look those four legged friends who rely on us to live.

Very much like us, they do not tolerate the extreme southern heat and we should take measures to protect them. Heatstroke/hyperthermia is a life threatening medical emergency. Luckily, there are measures we can take to help prevent this from happening.

First, we have to start with thermoregulation. This is the body’s mechanism of controlling temperature. Core body temperature is kept relatively constant (101.5 F +/- 1 degree) in the normal dog. Dogs cool themselves by panting, drooling saliva, and vasodilatation, which cool the body by evaporation and radiation. Dogs do sweat though glands in their paw pads, but these play very little to no role in cooling and are of no help if your dog isover panting memphis heatThere are many factors that can affect the dog’s ability to thermoregulate:

  • Excessive environmental heat can overwhelm the cooling process.
  • Humidity- The ability to dissipate heat via evaporation starts to become compromised at relative humidity levels as low as 35% and is basically negated at levels greater than 80%.
  • Lack of shade and water in hot weather
  • Age extremes, the very young and very old do not thermoregulate well.
  • Obesity
  • Brachycephalic breeds (short nosed animals like Pekingese, Pug, Bulldogs, Boston terriers, etc…) may suffer from ineffectual panting syndrome that actually results in increased body temperature due to inadequate oxygen instead of reduced body temperature with panting.
  • Excessive exercise
  • Any airway disease, viral or bacterial infection of nose throat or lungs, narrowed trachea, heart disease
  • Confinement in an enclosed space (An hour in a car even with the windows cracked in 80 degree weather can produce dangerous temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Think your dog may be suffering? What to look for:

In general, if you’re warm, the dog is likely much warmer. If a dog seems unexpectedly anxious or weak, seems less responsive to commands than usual,pants harder, drools more, or has a change of gum color, the pet may be suffering from heat stress, which could quickly progress (with or without other signs such as staggering, seizures, vomiting, or diarrhea) to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death without immediate veterinary care.

heat exhaustion dog

Keep Cool Tips:

Avoid intense activity between the hours of 10 AM and 8 PM.

Darker-colored dogs have a tendency to get hotter quicker and take longer to cool down than light -color dogs.

If the side walk or asphalt is to hot for you to walk on bare footed, you should not let your pet walk on it.

Always provide access to shade throughout the entire day.

Cool, fresh water should always be accessible to your dog. Baby pools for outside use are great as long as they stay in the shade as well.

Make sure adequate ventilation is available. Never leave a dog in an enclosed vehicle. Box fans to move air on a shady porch are very helpful.

If left inside, make sure the air conditioner is functioning.

We recommend all pets being inside anytime the heat index is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit, like this weekend.

Only leave a pet outside that has had weeks to acclimate to ambient temperatures in the area.


-Dr. Claudia Mangum

The Pet Hospitals- Collierville

(901) 853-7330

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