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On Thursday and Friday, SAM listed some symptoms and remedies for heat-related illnesses in people. Today, the focus shifts to pets.

SAM recently wrote about the dangers of leaving pets in cars during hot weather. (To reemphasize: Never do that. Never. Not even with the air conditioner running, since it could break down.) But high temperatures such as we are currently experiencing can be dangerous for any pet that is outdoors.

If you take your dog for walks, try to do that during cooler hours, such as early morning or late evening. Walk on grass instead of the sidewalk or asphalt. Place your hand or bare foot on a surface for a few seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s also too hot for your pet. Also bear in mind that a dog’s paws may be more susceptible to hot surfaces after they have been swimming. Dog booties may help.

Generally speaking, you should keep an eye on outdoor pets to make sure they don’t get heatstroke in weather like this.

“Animals do not have efficient cooling systems (like humans, who sweat) and get overheated easily, “ according to, an advice website .

A dog suffering from heatstroke will display a variety of signs, including rapid panting; weakness; dizziness; depression; vomiting (sometimes with blood); diarrhea; shock; a bright-red tongue; red or pale gums; and thick, sticky saliva. It may even go into a coma.

For cats, according to, initial symptoms of heat stress include restless behavior as they try to find a cool spot and panting, sweaty feet, drooling or excessive grooming in an effort to cool off. Advanced symptoms include rapid pulse, redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, lethargy, and a stumbling, staggering gait.

“Eventually the body temperature will be high enough to cause the cat to collapse and have seizures or slip into a coma,” according to the website.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, remove the pet from the hot area immediately.

“Prior to taking him to your veterinarian, lower his temperature by wetting him thoroughly with cool water (for very small dogs, use lukewarm water), then increase air movement around him with a fan,” PetCoach recommends. Using extremely cold water can be counterproductive and endanger your pet.

“If your cat is just starting to show signs of being stressed by the heat, move him to a cool quiet place and be sure he has plenty of water,” according to PetMD.

If a cat is found unconscious or is showing signs of heat exhaustion, you should take it to a veterinarian. The same advice applies to dogs.

Among prevention tips:

  • Keep pets with “predisposing conditions” such as heart disease, obesity, older age or breathing problems cool and in the shade.
  • It is imperative that you provide access to water and shade at all times for pets.
  • On hot days, restrict exercise and don’t take your dog jogging with you.
  • Avoid such places as the beach and concrete or asphalt areas where heat is reflected and there is no access to shade.
  • Do not muzzle your dog. “Muzzling dogs keeps them from panting, which is a natural and effective way of cooling their body temperature,” said Capt. Van Loveland with Forsyth County Animal Services.
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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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