Summer Heat: Precautions for Your Pets

Some pet precautions to be aware of as the temps go up, up, up …

Stay Cool

Stay Cool

There are a lot of fun walks, runs and parades during the summer season but unless your dog is well conditioned and used to taking a 5k run every day they will be just as sore as you would be if you were made to run 5k in your bare feet on hot pavement.

Dogs can only evaporate heat through their foot pads and via panting and that system can easily be overwhelmed. Your dog will do whatever you ask of them so they likely wont stop if you don’t. Take frequent breaks, exercise only in the cool times of the day and know the warning signs of heat stroke in your dog: Uncontrolled panting with a blue pallor to their tongue is dangerous. Don’t shock them with cold water… use alcohol wipes on their foot pads to cool them off and get them to a cool resting spot immediately. If they don’t normalize quickly they need emergency attention as prolonged overheating can cause life threatening bleeding disorders and organ failure.

Any breed of dog with a shortened muzzle (ie a pug) is particularly prone to overheating as are dogs with larangeal paralysis. Larangeal paralysis is a not uncommon disorder usually of large breed dogs, particularly Labrador Retrievers. The nerves that innervate the vocal cords become weakened with time so that instead of the vocal cords snapping open and shut, they luft in the wind, sometimes to the extent that the flabby tissue blocks the airway completely. The early symptoms are those of a huskier sounding pant and a change in their bark. It progresses to uncontrolled panting as well as choking when eating and drinking which can lead to aspiration pneumonia. The mechanism to dissipate heat buildup is severely diminished so these guys overheat during exercise and stress very quickly. The diagnosis is made under sedation and there is a corrective surgery available that works best for dogs with very early symptoms. If you think your dog has these symptoms it is crucial they are kept from situations that would allow overheating.

It seems obvious, but since people keep leaving their kids to die in hot cars, I will remind everyone NEVER LEAVE YOUR LOVED ONES IN A HOT CAR… NOT ONCE… NOT FOR A MINUTE. AND DON’T LEAVE THEM WITH THE AIR CONDITIONING ON EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED. PEOPLE AND ANIMALS CAN DIE IN LESS THAN AN HOUR IN THAT SITUATION EVEN IF IT IS A NEW WELL FUNCTIONING CAR DUE TO CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING AND LACK OF OXYGEN. That said, stay cool and enjoy our area’s cooling lakes and rivers with your dog.

Dr. Patricia Hart

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Southport Veterinary Center


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