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Teaching us about our animal friends

Heat Stroke in Pets: Signs and Prevention Tips

heat-safety-weekSummertime is here and so are the scorching hot temperatures that make us all reach for that extra glass of water. Did you know that, like humans, your pets can suffer from heatstroke? In fact, being outside all day or in a warm environment can affect an animal’s health just as much as it can affect ours.

Here are some signs and symptoms of heatstroke in cats and dogs, as well as ways to prevent it happening to your pet.

If your pets have any of the following signs or symptoms, take them to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately!

Signs of Heat Stroke in Cats and Dogs

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Bright or dark red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Weakness/difficultly moving
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

How to Keep Your Pets Cool this Summer

  • Keep your pets inside the house while you’re away. Your pets love the air conditioning as much as you do.
  • Always find a shaded area for your pet — keeping them out of the sun will help cool their body.
  • Avoid heavy exercise with your pets during the hottest hours of the day. Exercise with your pets outside during the early morning or late evening hours to keep them from overheating.
  • Have fresh water available for your pet at all times.
  • Be sure to use cool water, since ice water may constrict blood vessels and impedes the cooling process.
  • Place cool, wet cloths around your pet’s paws. This helps with the heat that is being released through the pads of their paws.

If you think your pet may be suffering from heatstroke, call your veterinarian immediately. It’s always important to watch your pet for any behaviors that seem abnormal. At the first sign of abnormal behavior, it’s time to act.

Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated this summer along with your pets!

Houston SPCA Summer Heat Safety Week

Founded in 1924, the Houston SPCA provides the most comprehensive array of animal adoption, shelter, rescue, rehabilitation and other programs and services in the Gulf Coast area. Check out all of our adoptable animals and consider the adoption option this summer.

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The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any ailment or disease, and is provided for reference. Please consult with your veterinarian with questions or concerns related to heat safety.


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Houston SPCA Summer Safety Pet Tips

Temperatures are soaring all over the Lone Star State, and both humans and their pets need to take cover. The Houston SPCA offers these helpful hints to help prepare your pet for the summer heat:


NEVER leave a pet in a parked car. The temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked and parked in the shade, can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes. If the air becomes too warm, a dog’s body temperature, normally 100.5 to 102.5 degrees, will continue to rise. If it exceeds 106 degrees, heatstroke could result, causing seizures, organ damage and even death.

Signs of heatstroke include (but are not limited to): excessive body temperature, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and coma. If you suspect heatstroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately.

To see just how quickly a car can heat up, watch the video below of a veterinarian who decided to experience what a pet might go through when locked in a hot car:


Both dogs and cats should be on heartworm preventative year-round. Heartworms are potentially fatal parasites spread through the bite of just one infected mosquito. During the summer months, heartworm preventative is especially important due to the increased mosquito population.


On very hot days, limit a pet’s jog or walk to the early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt gets very hot and can actually burn your pet’s paws.


It’s best to leave your pet inside your air-conditioned home. If your pet must stay outside, make sure he / she has adequate shelter with access to plenty of cool, fresh water and shade.


Dog Vaccine


Your pet should be up-to-date on all vaccinations.  If you are planning a vacation and your pet will be boarded, make sure to speak with your veterinarian about any additional vaccines they would recommend for the kennel environment.


Fleas are a common problem, but they are possible to get rid of and prevent further infestations. Talk to your veterinarian about the appropriate product for your animal and follow all instructions exactly. Many accidental poisonings and deaths happen each year because people use the wrong product on their pet.


Many people head to the beach, lake or pool to escape the heat and humidity. Remember that not all dogs are excellent swimmers. Always supervise your dog near the pool.  At the beach, a strong undertow or riptide can drag a frolicking pet out into the water.  Make sure you bring lots of fresh water for your pet to drink. Rinse any sand, salt or chlorine off your pet as soon as possible.


Plant food, fertilizer and insecticides can be fatal to a pet if ingested. Pet owners should read labels carefully and contact manufacturers for specific recommendations about using certain herbicides and pesticides around pets.

If you have any questions about the safety of your pets this summer, please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible!

To learn more about the Houston SPCA, please visit our website –