As hot weather continues, emergency vets ask pet owners to be cautious

MADISON, Wis. – As a prolonged stretch of high temperatures continues into a new week, emergency veterinarians are reminding pet owners to be vigilant when it comes to keeping an eye on their animals.

When it’s hot out and humid out, the dog has very limited ability to cool themselves down,” said emergency vet Tristan Daugherty-Leiter, who works at VCA Veterinary Emergency Service & Veterinary Specialty Center in Middleton. “Dogs don’t sweat to any appreciable degree, so what you have to worry about is dogs cool themselves by evaporative breathing, so they pant. When it’s humid out, there’s no evaporation because the air is already saturated with water.”

Daugherty-Leiter says for some dog breeds, it doesn’t take much time for heatstroke to set in on a hot and humid day.

We’ve seen dogs collapse and get real hot within 15 minutes to a half hour,” he said. “Owners will take their dogs out for a run and within a really short period of time, they’ll stop running, thick ropey drool, panting heavily, and then sometimes collapse, then they come it that way. It can happen quickly.”

The emergency vet says if you are going to exercise your pet, it’s best to do it early or late in the day to avoid direct sunlight. He says by catching signs of heat exhaustion early, dogs can be treated with cooling and fluids. For more severe cases of heatstroke, however, liver and kidney damage can occur, as well as blood clotting.

“We’re very cautious of the heat,” said Amy Good of the Dane County Humane Society. “You just have to watch them to make sure they’re doing okay.”

Good says in addition to shade, water, and rest to keep dogs cool, dog owners can get creative by freezing treats.

You don’t have to know a lot about how dogs work to just use common sense,” Daugherty-Leiter said. “If it’s super hot and humid, just take it easy.”