It is that time of year again. Living in Florida, as a pet owner, heatstroke is very common here in the Sunshine state and you should know what precautions to take. Also recognizing when heatstroke may be affecting your pet and what steps need to be taken if this occurs are essential.
The following article from the Veterinary Emergency Clinic (Learn About Heatstroke in Pets) provides some basic information about heatstroke.
One of the best things about living in Florida is the gorgeous weather we get to experience year round. However, we must also endure month’s humidity and high heat during the hot summer months. Just like it’s important for us to stay hydrated and protect ourselves from the sun, pets need to have certain precautions and care from the sun as well. At the Veterinary Emergency Clinic of Central Florida (VEC), we unfortunately see many animals (mainly dogs) suffering from heat stroke all through the high heat months.
Heat stroke in pets’ occur when an animal’s body temperature increases to a dangerous temperature of 105 degrees or over. This is known as hyperthermia. Heat stoke begins with your animal panting, hyper salivating and having difficulty breathing. These symptoms can quickly progress to bloody diarrhea, collapse and even death. Heat stroke in your pet can be extremely dangerous and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Heatstroke generally occurs in hot summer weather when:
- Animals are left with inadequate ventilation in hot vehicles or garages. (Cracking a window is NOT enough!)
- Animals are left outside without proper shade or water.
- Animals are exercised in hot/humid weather.
If your animal does become hyperthermic, move your pet to a cool environment, take their temperature (if able) and seek veterinary care immediately. DO NOT put your animal in an ice bath. Cooling an animal too quickly can be harmful. To help avoid heatstroke in your pet, walk them in the early morning and evening time, and keep them inside in the peak hot hours of the day (12pm-4pm). Additionally, make sure they have access to water.
Additionally, as of May 2016, Florida passed a law stating that people may break into a locked car if there is reason to believe that a pet or vulnerable person (like an infant) is in immediate danger. The person breaking into the vehicle may not be sued for property damage if:
- They have checked to make sure the vehicle is actually locked.
- Have a reasonable belief, based upon the known circumstance, that entering into the vehicle is necessary because the vulnerable person or domestic animal is in imminent danger of suffering harm.
- Called 911 or law enforcement either before or immediately after breaking into the vehicle.
- Use only the necessary amount of force to break in.
- Remain with the person, child or animal until first-responders arrive on the scene.
With all the fun that our Florida summertime can bring, an added responsibility to our beloved pets is also required. By paying close attention to their moods and behaviors, and by being aware of how to prevent heat stroke in your pet, you should be able to enjoy the hot months in Florida.
If you suspect your pet may be suffering from heat stroke, seek veterinary care immediately. Remember that complications may arise when your regular veterinarian is closed, so it’s important to know where your closest Veterinary Emergency Clinic is located.