Dogs and cats do not tolerate high temperatures as well as humans. They do not perspire, and so do not have the cooling benefits of water evaporation from the skin. Their main method of controlling body temperature is by panting to exchange cooler outside air for the warm air in their lungs. Radiation of heat from the skin surface also helps reduce body temperature.
When the air temperature is close to a dog or cat's body temperature, panting is an ineffective way to keep cool. The combination of high temperature, high humidity and poor ventilation can be fatal to animals. Confinement in a sunny concrete run or in a poorly shaded area of the yard may lead to overheating when temperatures exceed 85 degrees. Leaving a dog or cat in a car is especially dangerous. Temperatures can soar to well over the 100 degrees in just a few minutes. Dogs with short "pushed-in" noses, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese and Boxers, are especially susceptible to the heat.
An overheated dog or cat may develop heat stroke. Heat stroke begins with noisy, rapid breathing. The tongue and mucous membranes appear bright red, saliva thickens, and the dog may vomit. Body temperature rises, often to over 106 degrees. The dog may stagger. Bloody diarrhea can occur. If untreated, coma and subsequent death may result. Immediate cooling with water is the initial treatment. Lower the body temperature as quickly as possible by spraying, sponging, or dunking your pet in cold water, or by using ice packs. Get to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Realize if you're hot or cold, more than likely so is your pet. People that make their dogs and cats stay outside need to watch the temperature and also the heat index. It can be 85 degrees, but the heat index may be 106 degrees. Put your animals in a cool place when it gets like this. You wouldn't stay out in it, and they shouldn't either. Please don't take your dog to the store with you when it's hot weather and leave them in the car. That's a death sentence for your pet, and you may have the police looking for you if someone sees your pet shut up in a hot car. Even if you leave your car running with the air conditioner on your car could die, and it heats up very fast. I had a call a few years ago from a crying lady, she did this and even left her Yorkie with a bowl of water and her new car died and so did her dog. She went in the mall and was in there too long. People even leave their children in cars when it's hot. Wake up about these things and use the brain God gave you. This is a horrible thing that should never ever happen folks. Be responsible!
Farmer, executive director of Promoting Animal Welfare Society Inc., writes for Muskogee Phoenix, a CNHI News Service publication.