Preventing Heat Stroke: How to Keep Pets Cool & Safe

Aimee Beck
6 min readJun 29, 2021

No matter where you are in the world, heat waves usually roll in at one time or another. For those of us in Western Canada, that time is now. It’s hot. Super hot. Our daytime highs have been between 40°C and 47°C. We’re breaking records. Environment Canada and local Medical Health Officers are expecting “an increase in health and safety risks from heat and are advising the public to take precautions.”

That goes for your fur babies, too. Heat stroke is extremely dangerous for everyone … including your pets.

As a loving pet parent, we know you’re doing your best to keep your entire family as cool and comfortable as possible. Today, we’re going to talk about ways to keep your pets cool during the summer heat.

But first, let’s take a look at the severity of heat stroke and the dangerous impact it can have on your pets.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. In humans, this happens when your body temp rises quickly and the act of sweating is no longer enough to cool you down. The same concept applies to animals.

Can pets get heat stroke?

Yes! In fact, pets are at a higher risk for heat stroke than humans because a) they’re wearing fur coats, and b) they can’t sweat. Not in the same way humans can, that is.

Dogs and cats have some sweat glands in their paw pads, but it’s not enough to regulate body temp in extreme heat. Fortunately, they have other ways of regulating body temperature.

When dogs get too hot, they pant. It’s the primary way they release excess heat from their bodies (in the form of water vapor) by way of the tongue, mouth and upper respiratory tract. It sounds like a lot of work, but panting actually takes very little energy, thanks to the elasticity of your dog’s lungs and airway.

But when the mercury rises too high too fast, panting might not be enough to keep your dog cool. That’s when their secondary self-cooling method kicks in — vasodilation. The dilation of blood vessels brings blood to the surface of the skin to lower body temp.

Aimee Beck

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