It’s hotter than… So many ways to finish that sentence, but it all comes down to “Dang, it’s too hot!” With temperatures nearing triple digits, heat stroke in pets is a real danger. 

It’s easy for our pets to overheat in warm weather. Unlike us, they can’t strip off clothes or turn up the a/c when it gets hot. Dogs and cats are unable to sweat, so they are less able to regulate their body temperature. It’s important to know the signs of heatstroke so that you can treat your pet appropriately and know when to seek veterinary attention.

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature increases to a point where serious consequences, including organ failure and even death, can occur. Some pets are more susceptible to heat stroke, including ones that are overweight, flat-faced pets (pugs, Persians), extra-hairy pets, old dogs and cats, very young pets, and those with lung or heart problems.

Signs are similar for both dogs and cats, but the signs are often more subtle in cats. Watch for excessive panting that can progress to distressed breathing, restlessness, agitation, and pacing. A dog or cat may also drool, vomit, have diarrhea, red gums, and/or increased heart rate. If you are concerned that your pet is overheating- take them somewhere cool, offer small sips of water, and monitor them closely. As heatstroke advances, your pet can suffer from lethargy, confusion, weakness, collapse, or seizures.

Heatstroke can rapidly become a life-threatening emergency. If your pet is panting uncontrollably, seems disoriented, confused, or collapses, immediately take them to the nearest emergency vet hospital. Most vets recommend the “cool first, transport second” approach. Run cool (not freezing) water over them with a hose or in the tub. Wrap cool, wet towels around them and fan them on the way to the vet. Even if your dog or cat doesn’t have advanced symptoms, your vet should check them out after experiencing any heat-related incidents.

Avoid heatstroke in the first place by making sure your pet has access to a cool shaded area, restricting exercise on warm days, and packing a water bottle on morning or evening walks. You should never leave pets in a car or a hot room, and ensure your pet always has cool fresh drinking water. 

Here at Second Chance, we use shade covers over the dog runs, kiddie pools with water to splash and relax in, access to fresh water, and we bring them inside on the hottest afternoons. On walks, we stick to the shady areas, and let the dogs splash and cool off in our ponds. Our cats are fortunate to be indoors, with access to shaded catios.

Jack is a handsome 4-year-old Lab/Pointer mix. He loves outdoor adventures such as running, swimming, and hiking. He is very friendly with adults, children, and other dogs. However, he isn’t a fan of cats. He would love to be your new best friend.

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Shops have served San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties since 1994. Adoption hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5:30 pm. View our shelter pets and services online: