As temperatures across Kansas have climbed to triple digits and the humidity has pushed the heat index well above that, both humans and pets have been at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Dogs are especially at risk for heat-related problems and their condition should be monitored closely. Kansas State University veterinarian Susan Nelson says dogs will exhibit a number of warning signs if they’re suffering from heat stress or heat exhaustion, including panting more than usual.
“Their saliva will start getting thick and ropy because they are dehydrating,” Nelson said. “The mucus membranes of their tongue are going to start to look darker red. If you are out walking, they may start to lag behind, maybe staggering a little bit. And, then in more advanced cases, is the outright seizures, they are passing out.”
If a dog must be outside during the day, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of cool water. For dogs that are fed outside, pick up any remaining food so it doesn’t spoil. Try to walk dogs early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. Nelson also has a warning for dog owners who allow pets to ride in the vehicle with them.
“Do not ever leave your pet in a car, at least without the air conditioner running, even for a few minutes during the summer,” Nelson warned. “Those temperatures quickly go over 100-degrees and it doesn’t take long for your pet to succumb to heat exhaustion.”
To treat a pet suffering from heat stroke, move them into the shade or an air-conditioned area, apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest or run cool – not cold water – over them, give them small amounts of cool water or let them lick ice cubes, and take them directly to a veterinarian.