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Extreme heat and its impact on your pets, according to a veterinarian

Posted at 4:59 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 11:58:58-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — If you can, think about stepping outside in these triple-digit temperatures with a fur coat on.

That is exactly what your dog is going through, according to local veterinarians. They are now hoping to educate owners about the dangers animals face in this heat and how it could turn into a deadly heatstroke.

"Well, it's basically like sticking yourself in the oven and turning the heat on to 350 degrees," said Dr. Sara Ford. Ford is a veterinary internal medicine specialist at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Scottsdale.

Dr. Ford said there are warning signs animal lovers need to watch for.

"Animals are really, really tough," Dr. Ford said. "So, if they're showing you critical signs of a problem - they are probably sicker than you think."

She explained that if you are out exercising with your pet, it is pretty common for them to take roughly 5 to 10 minutes to cool down after the fact.

"So, if they're panting for more than 10 minutes or it's really exaggerated or excessive panting, that definitely isn't normal," Dr. Ford said.

Dogs also can only release heat from their paws or by panting. They do not have sweat glands like humans, which makes it more difficult for them to cool down from those extreme temperatures.

Dr. Ford suggests limiting time outside. If the temperature is over 80 degrees, she suggests not walking your pet. She encourages swimming as an alternative form of exercise.

If you notice that your pet is excessively panting, cannot catch their breath, their tongue or gums turn dark red, or if they seem disoriented, then you need to take them to the veterinarian immediately.

"We cool them down, we give them cool IV fluids, we treat them for shock," Dr. Ford described. "If their temperature is 106 or above, then that's what we really worry about -- 24 to 48 hours having organ failure and not being able to ultimately save the pet."

Dr. Ford said the pets that are most at risk for heatstroke are short-nose dogs, such as boxers, pugs, and french bulldogs.

Dogs with longer coats are also more susceptible.