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Keep Your Pets Safe amid Summer Heat Wave

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    Keep your pets safe as temperatures rise.
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Monitor your pets for signs of heat stroke during high heat and humidity

With a heat wave scorching the East Coast this week, the American Red Cross encourages pet owners to pay attention to how the heat is affecting your furry friends.

Heat stroke (hyperthermia) occurs when a pet severely overheats. The good news is if the heat stroke hasn’t advanced too far (with body temperature of more than 104° F), you can help your pet recover.

Common causes of heat stroke include: a previous episode of heat stroke, leaving a pet in a parked car, excessive exercise in hot, humid weather (this may be exercise that your pet can usually handle but not in warmer weather), lack of appropriate shelter outdoors, thicker-coated pets in warm weather and underlying disease such as upper airway, heart of lung disease.

The Humane Society of the United States Pet Tips

  • Never Leave Your Pet in the Car: In nice weather you may be tempted to take your pet with you in the car while you travel or do errands. But during warm weather, the inside of your car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even if you're parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for your companion animals left in the car.
  • If you do happen to see a pet alone in a car during hot weather, alert the management of the store where the car is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately.

  • Don't Put Your Pet in the Back of a Truck: It is very dangerous, and in some states illegal, to drive with a dog in the back of a pick-up truck. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves or is hit by another car.
  • Stay Bite-Free: With people and dogs spending more time outside, pet bites are likely to increase in the warmer months. Spaying or neutering your pet reduces the likelihood that it will bite and provides many other health benefits.
  • Pet Care 101: Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tag. If you are separated from your pet, an ID tag may very well be his or her ticket home.
  • Check with your veterinarian to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal in both dogs and cats. Another warm weather threat is fleas and ticks. Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian. Some over-the-counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to instructions.

    Recognizing the Signs of a Heat Stroke

    Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include: collapse, body temperature 104° F or above, bloody diarrhea or vomit, depression stupor, seizures or coma, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, salivation.

    If you suspect heat stroke:

  • Get your pet out of direct heat
  • Check for shock
  • Take your pet’s temperature
  • Spray your pet with cool water then retake temperature
  • Place water – soaked towels on the pet’s head, neck feet, chest and abdomen, turn on a fan and point it in your pet’s direction, rub Isopropyl alcohol (70 percent) on the pet’s foot pads to help cool him but don’t use large quantities as it can be toxic if ingested
  • Take your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital
  • During a heat crisis, the goal is always to decrease the pet’s body temperature to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes. Once 103° F is reached, you must stop the cooling process because the body temperature will continue to decrease and can plummet dangerously low if you continue to cool the pet for too long.

    Even if you successfully cool your pet down to 103° F in the first 10-15 minutes, you must take the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible because consequences of heat stroke will not show up for hours or even days. Potential problems include abnormal heart rhythms, kidney failure, neurological problems and respiratory arrest.

    Learn more about pet safety.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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