The excessive temperatures in Montana have everyone searching for ways to keep cool. Your pet is feeling the heat too, and they cannot thermoregulate their body temperature when subjected to extremely hot weather. Our team at Livingston Veterinary Hospital wants to suggest steps you can take to keep your pet from overheating.


Air conditioning for pets: When it’s so hot that …

chickens start laying hard boiled eggs, keep your pet inside an air conditioned space to be safe. 

People can cool off efficiently by sweating, but pets do not have this option. While they do have a few sweat glands in their feet, their primary means for cooling down is by panting. As the air moves over their tongue, nasal passages, and lining of their lungs, evaporation occurs, resulting in a cooling effect. However, this process is not sufficient when conditions are hot and humid, and they will also need external means to provide cooling. Hanging out next to the air conditioning vent is a good way to ensure they do not overheat. Brachycephalic breeds, such as boxers, pugs, and bulldogs, are more susceptible to heatstroke, because their facial structure does not allow for appropriate air circulation. Other factors to consider include your pet’s age, body condition, and health status. Geriatric pets, obese pets, and pets affected by an illness, especially a heart or respiratory issue, are more prone to heatstroke. Ensure these pets stay inside on hot days, and take them outside only for brief bathroom breaks. If your electricity goes out, ensure your pet has a cool place to stay.


Prevent dehydrated pets: When it’s so hot that …

you can fry a burger on your car hood, provide your pet with fresh drinking water

Dehydrated pets are more susceptible to heatstroke. When possible, ensure your pet has continuous access to fresh water, their water bowls are cleaned daily, and fresh water is added frequently. If you go on an outing with your pet, take bottled water and a bowl so you can offer them clean water periodically to ensure they are adequately hydrated.


No parking for pets: When it’s so hot that …

ears of corn start to pop in the fields, ensure you do not leave your pet in a parked vehicle or in a closed house with no ventilation or air conditioning.

Your pet should never be left in a parked vehicle. Temperatures inside a car can quickly become dangerously high, putting your pet at extreme heatstroke risk. If you usually turn your air conditioner off when you leave for the day, refrain from this practice when temperatures are higher than 80 degrees outside. Especially in a home that has multiple windows, temperatures can rise rapidly.


Walking with pets: When it’s so hot that …

your sandals melt when you are walking down the sidewalk, avoid strenuous exercise with your pet.

Your pet may get so excited playing fetch that they do not realize they need to take a break to cool off. Leave these activities for cooler days. Walk in the early morning or evening hours to escape the hottest times of day.


Watching your pet: When it’s so hot that …

you can use your seat belt buckle as a branding iron, watch your pet closely for heatstroke signs.

Initial overheating signs in your dog, such as lethargy and excessive panting and drooling, may not be concerning, but as their condition progresses, other, more serious, signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, and collapse.


A pet emergency: When it’s so hot that …

squirrels need oven mitts to pick up nuts, be aware that heatstroke is a veterinary emergency for your pet. 

A pet’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees. Temperatures higher than 103 are cause for concern, and temperatures higher than 105 signal heatstroke. When your pet’s temperature reaches dangerous levels, their entire body is affected.

  • Brain damage causes swelling, bleeding, and cell death. 
  • The inflammatory response initially causes the heart to pump faster, but as the heart sustains more damage, the organ can no longer pump effectively, resulting in decreased blood circulation. 
  • Your pet will become shocky when their organs no longer receive adequate oxygenated blood. 
  • Lung tissue damage results in respiratory distress. 
  • When blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract decreases, the intestinal wall becomes compromised, and allows bacteria to leak into the bloodstream and be carried to other organs, such as the kidneys and heart. 
  • Coagulation factors can be triggered, resulting in bleeding from multiple sites. 


Know how to help your pet: When it’s so hot that …

your loaf of bread turns to toast on the way home from the grocery store, know what steps to take if your pet starts to overheat. 

If your pet starts to show concerning heatstroke signs, immediately take them to a cool area with good air circulation. Offer them water, and allow them to drink as much as they want. Cool them down in a cool water bath—never use ice or ice water when cooling your pet, because a sudden temperature drop can result in shock. Once their temperature reaches 103, or if their temperature has not started to decrease after 10 minutes,  take them to Livingston Veterinary Hospital for emergency care.


Ensure you and your pet have a great summer by keeping them safe from the heat. If you are concerned your pet may be overheating, do not hesitate to contact our team at Livingston Veterinary Hospital.