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One thing that we can all agree on is that Charleston summers are notorious for being extremely hot with plenty of humidity and heat advisory warnings. As we prepare to endure these hot summer days, it is essential to know what signs to look for if you think that your animal may be experiencing signs of heat exhaustion, and how to keep them cool. Heat-related deaths are very common in animals during the summer months because of improper ventilation, not enough water, and lack of shade provided to outdoor pets. To help keep your favorite furry friend safe from this summer heat, check out the tips below to learn the safest ways to have some fun in the sun.

Warning Signs

Did you know that dogs and cats do not sweat like humans? Their sweat glands are located on their paws, but their main way of regulating their body temperature is by panting. This fast-paced, heavy breathing is their way of communicating that their environment is too hot and that they need to cool down soon. Animals, dogs especially, begin to pant after strenuous exercise, or when they are in temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Pet Health Network, warning signs of overheating in animals include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Dry gums that feel sticky to touch or dark red gums 
  • Vomiting
  • Walking “drunk” or dragging behind
  • Seizures
  • Warm to touch, warm and flushed skin
  • Glazed eyes
  • Excessive drooling

Prevention is the Best Protection

Animals are most susceptible to heat exhaustion when they are neglected by their caregiver. Do not be the parent that leaves their dog or cat in a hot car without proper ventilation. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to suffering from heat stroke or organ damage. The best way to protect your animal from possible heat exhaustion is preventing that situation if at all possible. 

Different breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, have a greater risk of getting overheated. It is best to ask your vet how much exercise your pet can handle, depending on their health. When you do exercise with them, the best times to exercise are before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. Make sure there are shaded areas for you both to rest from the sun and carry along a bottle or two of water. A great way to keep your pet cool and switch up your exercise is to head down to the beach for a swim! The cool water of Folly Beach or Isle of Palms is sure to excite your pup and lessen the chances of heat exhaustion.

My Animal Is Overheated, What Do I Do?

If your animal does begin to show signs of heat exhaustion, the best thing you can do is take immediate action. If your animal is experiencing heat exhaustion; take these following steps:

  • Take your animal to a cooler area immediately, preferably with a fan or air conditioning
  • Check their temperature 
  • Call your veterinarian 
  • If you are near a pool of water or sprinkler, let your animal take a swim or place wet clothing or cooling pads on their neck, armpit, underside, and ear areas
  • Get your animal to professional help to be checked out as soon as possible. 

We are all preparing for these Charleston summer days. Now that you are fully knowledgable on what signs to look for in your animals and how to keep them safe from this summer heat, you can look ahead to summer vacation!

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