Dr. Meg Connelly, a locaal South Shore veterinarian at Willard Veterinary Clinic in Quincy Massachusetts warns pet owners to be vigilant in helping pets avoid heatstroke. At her animal clinic, she has seen an increase in cases of pet heatstroke in the South Shore and surrounding areas. Dr. Connelly said that overweight and elderly pets, pets with cardiac or respiratory problems, and dogs with short noses like bulldogs, boxers and pugs are particularly heat sensitive.
Dr. Connelly said that heatstroke is entirely preventable, but that pet owners often forget that their pets deal with heat differently than humans do. “Pets wear fur coats all the time, and they can’t really sweat, except a little between their footpads. So even at temperatures in the 70s, pets can feel uncomfortable. Just imagine how you would feel in our recent sweltering 90 degree heat and humidity with a fur coat you couldn’t take off. It’s very dangerous, but it’s also preventable. If you notice your pet is panting loudly and heavily like they can’t get enough air, get them cool fast.”
Paying close attention to a pet’s comfort and condition is important, explains Dr. Connelly. Aside from desperate panting, Dr. Connelly says pets lapsing into heat stroke may drool excessively, have bright red gums and look worried before turning lethargic or unconscious. Once a pet’s temperature reaches 104, brain and organ damage can start. If pet owners notice these symptoms, they should run cool (not freezing) water over them with a hose or in the tub. Then wrap cool, wet towels around them and fan them on the way to the animal clinic near Milton. Even if owners cool their pets down, they still need pet veterinary care and possibly pet meds.
The South Shore veterinarian stresses that aside from knowing the symptoms and how to handle them, heatstroke prevention is always best. Dr. Connelly urges families to keep their pets in cool, shady, well-ventilated areas out of the sun on hot days and to make sure they always have enough fresh, cool water to drink. Pets should go for walks early in the morning when it is still cool outside. Longer-haired pets can also be given a shorter fur trim for the summer to help ventilate their skin.
Dr. Connelly reminds pet owners never to leave their pets alone in a parked car: “Parked cars literally become ovens that can kill a pet or a person in moments. Either leave your pets at home, or take them inside with you. It will save their lives!”
Local veterinarian Dr. Meg Connelly has been treating pets at the dog and cat hospital in Quincy since 1987. The animal clinic provides comprehensive South Shore pet services, as well as resources for pet health information.
Willard Veterinary Clinic
176 Willard St. Quincy, MA 02169 Phone: 617-845-0730