By Dr. Shantanu Kalambi

The soaring summer temperature is unbearable for humans and our pets are no exception. Just like us, our pets can also experience heat exhaustion that can put their lives at risk. As a pet parent, one needs to be observant of the signs and symptoms in our four-legged friends in order to treat them in time. It is also essential to take precautions in order to avoid any serious conditions.

Let’s understand some common signs of overheating, its prevention, and the right treatment –   

Breathlessness along with Heavy Panting

A dog doesn’t sweat through its skin but the padding of its paws. Therefore panting helps dogs to cool off unlike humans that sweat through the skin to prevent overheating. Look closely if your dog is panting continuously or faster than normal. In such cases where your dog is experiencing difficulty in breathing or panting heavily, it is a sign of overheating. Flat-faced and snub-nosed dogs, like Bulldogs and Pugs, are more susceptible to breathing problems due to heat exhaustion. They have smaller airways making it difficult for them to release heat through panting. Similarly old, overweight dogs, and dogs with pre-existing breathing and heart conditions are more likely to be affected by heatstroke.

Dehydration and Fever

Our pet’s peeing habits are also a telltale sign of dehydration. If they face difficulty in producing urine or if their urine is deeply coloured, it is a sure shot indication that the water and electrolyte content in their body is low. Along with this, look for a dry nose; it can suggest two things, the first is dehydration and the second is that your pet has a fever. Dogs generally have a wet, cool nose. In case they have a dry and hot nose, then it is clear that they are down with an illness. Body temperature beyond 103° F is considered a fever. In addition to these, visible tiredness or sunken eyes can also occur due to dehydration.

In certain cases, dogs can even feel light headed due to dehydration or heat exhaustion. They become lethargic and take more naps than usual. Heatstroke can even lead to dizziness and weakness because of which they are unable to walk straight and end up bumping into furniture. In worst cases, they even find it difficult to stand up. Along with these, also check for any bright red, grey, purple, or bluish gums in your pets. That could be indicative of dehydration in them. 

Other Common but Crucial Symptoms

Vomiting and diarrhea, with soft stool or blood, during the summer season can occasionally occur due to heat exhaustion. Along with this, dogs can drool profusely. The drool usually has a thick and sticky consistency. There should be no muscle tremors, irrespective of the temperature outside and also check for elevated pulse rate.

Having taken a look at the symptoms, let’s explore the preventive measures and treatments to help your pet beat the heat.

Prefer Cooler Parts of the Day to Take Your Dog for a Walk

Do not take your pet out during peak temperatures of the day. Early mornings or late evenings are cooler and prevent chances of heatstroke due to overheating. Breeds like Shih Tzu, Pug, Bulldog, Boxer, and young or senior pets are more susceptible to heatstroke. Hence, extra care must be given to them. Always carry enough water even for short trips. Be attentive to humidity levels and restrict physical activity when the air is full of moisture.

Take Care of Their Diet

Feeding them right food can help a lot in beating heat. Serve them food with as much liquid as possible to ensure that their body hydration level is maintained. Give food and veggies with high water content and keep it in gravy-like consistency to avoid any chance of dehydration. Rice mixed with curd, buttermilk, and peanut butter with curd are some easy-to-make options. Even cold veg and chicken soup can increase their water intake. Fruits and vegetables like deseeded watermelons, musk melons, and cucumbers are fun and great treats for pets in summer. Be cautious not to give them hot food and ice cream. Chocolates are also a big no.      

Pet Grooming

Taking care of your pet’s hygiene is equally important during summers. Give them regular baths and brush their fur frequently. Prefer products with healing ingredients like aloe vera and tea tree oil to inhibit any parasite growth on your pet.

To style your pet, one can go for a shorter summer haircut. Do not give your pet a full shave down. It can meddle with the natural built-in capacity to regulate temperature. Close trim will suffice but going beyond that can give rise to skin problems, which can lead to infections. By nature, their coat is designed in such a way that can keep them cool during summers and warm during winters.

As responsible pet parents and humans, it is also important to remember that our community animals are also suffering due to extreme heat and rising temperatures. A simple act of placing water bowls in and around your house will go a long way in helping them. Always place fresh water and do not forget to refill them at least once a day.

Even after taking all the preventive measures, in case your pet loses consciousness or is showing severe signs of illness like vomiting, seizing, etc., it is recommended to immediately take your pet to the vet for treatment

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