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Keeping pets safe from heat

Animals can suffer from heat stroke. Do you know how to recognize the symptoms?
Animals can suffer from heat stroke. Do you know how to recognize the symptoms?

Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

May 28, 2012 — When the temperatures soar, your pets feel it too. The SPCA has tips on what to do, and what not to do, to keep cats and dogs safe.

Keep your pets cool when the temperature soars
Keep your pets cool when the temperature soars

When it's hot and humid, Canadians are urged to stay hydrated and avoid any strenuous activity. But what about our four-legged friends?

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) says high temperatures can be a serious danger to pets and can easily cause severe distress or even death. 

“The reason for that is they're unable to sweat and because of that they over heat very quickly and this can lead to brain damage and eventual death,” SPCA Agent Brad Dewar told The Weather Network last summer. “If it's hot for us, it's hot for our pets and if we were left outside with a fur coat on, we'd be exceptionally hot in these types of conditions." 

With temperatures in parts of Ontario soaring past 30°C Monday, and feeling like 39 with the humidity, people are being reminded to keep their pets in the shade and with plenty of water. 

Pets should never be left unattended in vehicles during hot and humid weather. The temperature in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows partly open, can rapidly reach a level that will seriously harm or even kill your pet. 

If a person is convicted of animal cruelty, they could receive the charge of two years imprisonment, a lifetime ban from owning an animal or a $60,000 fine, warns Dewar. 

Do you know how to recognize if your cat or dog is in distress? The BC SPCA says these are the symptoms of heat stroke: 

  • Exaggerated panting (or the sudden stopping of panting)
  • rapid or erratic pulse
  • salivation
  • anxious or staring expression
  • weakness and muscle tremors
  • lack of coordination
  • tongue and lips red (which may eventually turn bluish in colour)
  • convulsions or vomiting
  • collapse, coma and death. 

The SPCA says if heat stroke is suspected, prompt veterinary medical attention is crucial.
In the meantime however, the following tips are suggested: 

  • Immediately move the animal to a cool, shady place.
  • Wet the dog with cool water.
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation. This process will cool the blood, which reduces the dog's core temperature.
  • Do not apply ice. This constricts blood flow which will inhibit cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink some cool water (or to lick ice cream if no water is available).
  • Take the dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible for further treatment. 

For more information on how to ensure that your animals are safe from the heat, be sure to check the Pets and Weather section of our website. 

With files from Andrea Stockton

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