Vet clinic gives tips to prevent pet heat exhaustion

Jul 18, 2023, 7:15 PM | Updated: 7:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The hot weather is leading to heat-related emergency vet visits as the triple digital heat is becoming too brutal for some pets.

Dr. Jordan Scherk with MedVet explained that when he examines a dog for potential heat-related illness, he checks their paws for burns and their abdomen for pain or enlarged organs.

He takes their temperature and looks at their mouth to check the gums and tongue’s redness, and the eyes’ whites to see if they are red or yellow.

“With this record heat, we’re seeing things like thermal burns on feet from walking on really hot pavement,” Scherk said. “We will see heat stroke injury or heat exhaustion injury typically happening after the heat of the day.”

While pet parents love their pups and don’t mean for them to get hurt, Scherk said the hotter it gets, the higher a dog’s body temperature.

It would be like going outside in the 90-degree weather with a coat on, he said. A dog’s body and internal organs begin to heat up.

“And once these organs get that hot, they stop functioning appropriately. Just kind of like cooking,” Scherk explained.

Dr. Jordan Scherk examining a dog. (KSL TV)

That’s why he urges dog owners to avoid outside time in the middle of the day during the heatwave and try to aim for walks or exercise before sunrise or after sunset.

Check the pavement temperature by placing your hand on it. Scherk said it’s too hot for your dog to walk on if you can’t stand touching the pavement with your hand for more than five or six seconds.

Try to opt for walks on light pavement versus dark asphalt, or on grass and dirt instead of cement. Stay away from exposed trails and open areas with no trees.

“If we’ve got to get these dogs out here, the shady, overgrown hikes, the ones that are along creek bed so the dogs can lay down in the river,” he recommended.

Keep your dog hydrated by bringing extra water or keeping close access to water.

“A lot of these dogs will drink just as much if not more than you,” Scherk said.

How to beat the heat in triple digit temps

Before heading outdoors, he described how people should cool their dogs off ahead of time.

“Soak your dogs down with water beforehand so that can help, kind of evaporate some of the heat off of them,” he said.

Watch them closely when outside and get them wet immediately if they appear to be overheating. Dr. Scherk said that can be done either by putting them in water like a lake or creek or soaking them down.

“Listen to your dog,” he said. “If they start to lay down when they’re playing fetch, if they’re panting with their mouth really wide open with a really red tongue, call it quits at that point.”

That way, the sun doesn’t get the best of your fur baby.

“Really just being diligent in your planning,” Scherk said. “And making sure that if you are going to go for the hike, that it’s something that they can withstand.”

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Vet clinic gives tips to prevent pet heat exhaustion