Protect your pet: Know the signs of heat stroke in animals

Atlanta didn’t get the nickname “Hotlanta” for nothing — The Georgia summer has a way of reaching triple digits. Do you know the signs of heat stroke in your pets?

How Heat Stroke Works

Georgia has hot summers that coupled with a suffocating humidity sends most residents in search of air conditioning. While many of us are conscious of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in ourselves and in our families, do you know the signs of heat stroke in your pets? Knowing what heat stroke looks like and how to act quickly in response to it could save your pet’s life.

According to Pet Wave, “Heat Stroke” is the term used to describe a case of “non-pyrogenic hyperthermia.” It occurs when your pet’s ability to dissipate heat from its body cannot make up for the excessive heat it’s experiencing. Dogs and cats do not sweat like humans to cool their bodies; instead, they pant and lick their fur to cool off. When air temperature is close to their body temperature (Cat World says that for cats that’s around 100-102 degrees F), panting is no longer effective for cooling the body.

Signs of Heat Stroke in Pets

When out in the sun with your pets watch them for the tale-tell signs of heat stroke. WebMD and Cat World list symptoms such as:

  • Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
  • Tongue has a bright red appearance
  • Saliva thickening or excess saliva production
  • Anxiety and Dizziness
  • Weakness, Lethargy
  • Vomiting, Diarrhea
  • Muscle tremors, spasms, and seizures
  • Coma

Avoiding Heat Stroke in your Pet

Heat Stroke is a very real risk for pets that is not too hard to reach in hot summer temperatures. You can help your pets avoid heat stroke by following a few steps:

  • Know your pet’s needs. Brachycephalic dogs cannot handle heat nearly as well others, so they will need special care.
  • Never leave a pet in the car, even if just for a few minutes. Temperatures inside the car can reach a dangerous level within seconds. Even with the windows down, this is not a safe environment for your pet.
  • Don’t exercise your pet strenuously in hot, humid weather. Instead, take their longer walks in early morning and late evening when temperatures are cooler and safer.
  • Always make sure that your pets have access to cool, fresh water, and are not confined away from this need.
  • Avoid hot asphalt and concrete surfaces that will radiate heat and could burn your pet’s paw pads.
  • Avoiding confining your pet in warm areas within the home, such as a sunroom or screened patio. Make sure that they have a cool, shaded place to retreat whether indoors or out.


With these simple steps and a little awareness, your pets can enjoy summer fun with you without the threat of heat stroke. Keep an eye on them throughout the warm months and always be aware of the signs so that you can get your pet medical attention should the need arise. 

Join us on our facebook page at Deceased Pet Care Funeral Homes for more ideas on keeping your pets safe this summer.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Therra C. Gwyn July 21, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Great reminder and great advice!


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