July 13, 2010

Understanding Heat Stroke in Cats

Filed under: Heat Stroke — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:10 pm

With the summer season well underway, pet owners need to be extra vigilant about protecting their beloved animals from heat-related illnesses.  Just like in humans or other animals, heat stroke is a condition that occurs when your cat’s body absorbs or produces more heat than it expels.  Because they only sweat through their paws or panting, cats are not well suited for the heat and heat stroke in cats constitutes a medical emergency.

The symptoms of heat stroke in cats include:

  • Excessive salivation with especially thick saliva
  • Excessive panting
  • Dark red or pale gums
  • A bright red tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive grooming
  • Unconsciousness

The problem with heat stroke is that as your cat’s body temperature increases its internal organs and body systems begin shutting down.  Once your cat’s rectal temperature reaches 108.5°F, irreversible damage may occur and death becomes a very real possibility.

Clearly, heat stroke in cats is a very serious condition that should never be taken lightly.  The normal body temperature of a cat is between 100.5 and 102.5°F (or 38.2 to 39.2°C) and if the outside temperature exceeds this, heat stroke is a risk for cats.

There are many things a pet owner can do to prevent heat stroke in cats.  First of all, never under any circumstances, leave your cat in a parked car.  Within 30 minutes your car’s temperature can exceed 120°F in the summer making it a very dangerous environment for pets.  Also, ensure that your cat has adequate access to cool drinking water, shade, and the outdoors.  Most veterinarians also recommend that your cat avoids strenuous exercise during hot days and that you limit exposure to the sun in the middle of the afternoon.  While heat stroke is a serious and dangerous condition, it is also entirely preventable so make sure to take the necessary steps to protect your cat.

July 12, 2010

Understanding Heat Stroke in Dogs

Filed under: Heat Stroke — Dr. Amber Reed @ 8:06 pm

Hyperthermia is an elevation in body temperature as a result of exposure to a hot environment or sometimes because of inflammation in the body.  Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are both conditions that result because of hyperthermia, but heat stroke requires immediate medical attention.  Dogs suffering from heat stroke will display specific symptoms and may become very ill.  In fact, heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage and may even lead to death.

Dogs do not sweat like humans.  In fact, dogs dispel heat through the pads of their feat and by panting and this means it can be very difficult for them to stay cool.  If a dog cannot efficiently expel heat, their internal body temperatures begin to rise.  Once a dog’s body temperature rises to 106°F, cellular and organ damage occurs and may be irreversible.

Heat stroke can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Increased body temperature (more than 104°F indicates a serious problem)
  • Extreme panting
  • Dark red colored gums
  • Dry mucus membranes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Thick saliva
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

When you suspect heat stroke, it is necessary to take immediate action.  First of all, take your dog out of the sun or away from heat and cool him with wet rags around his feet and head.  Be careful not to use ice cold water as this can cause blood vessels to restrict and prevent natural cooling processes.  Once his body temperature has dropped to 103°F you can stop cooling.  Provide your dog with water but do not force him to drink it.  Finally, visit your veterinarian immediately to ensure that there is no permanent damage.  Even though your dog is cooling, there may be some more serious problems to consider.  When heat stroke is suspected, it is always best to allow a vet to give a complete medical exam.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.