Toronto Veterinarians - Pet Wellness Network

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Contact Willowdale Animal Hospital

Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

We are experiencing one of the hottest summers on record this year, which has been very hard on many of us, including our furry friends.   These very hot and humid conditions can cause our pet’s body temperature to increase dangerously, which can lead to hyperthermia or heatstroke.  Heatstroke can occur when dogs and cats are left in hot vehicles with inadequate ventilation, left outdoors without access to shade or exercised in hot weather.  Pets that are overweight, have underlying heart or lung disease or are brachycephalic (short nosed – such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers) may have even more difficulty in these extreme conditions.

It is important to monitor our pets for signs of distress in hot weather.  Initial signs may include excessive panting, restlessness or large amounts of drool from the nose or mouth.  They can then become unsteady on their feet.  Eventually you may notice their gums turning blue or purple or bright red in colour due to lack of oxygen.  Severe heat stroke can affect the entire body, causing major organ dysfunction and/or failure.  It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment.  If you suspect heat stroke, your pet should be taken to the nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

If you think your pet is beginning to overheat and you are concerned, the first step is to remove your pet from the hot environment.  Move to a shaded/cooler environment, or direct a fan towards him.  You can continue to gradually cool down your pet by placing wet towels over him.  If you are still concerned, you should take your pet to the nearest veterinarian immediately.

It is important not to attempt to cool your pet too rapidly.  Using cold water baths or ice for cooling can cause constriction of local blood vessels, trapping heat in the core of the body.  This can make the problem worse.  Monitor your pet closely and make sure you have adequate cool water available for your pet to drink, if your pet is alert enough to take interest.  Do not force water into your pet’s mouth.  Walk your dog at dawn and dusk when it tends to be cooler out, and avoid heavy exercise on excessively hot days. Taking a water bottle for your dog to have a drink and cool down while on his walk can also be helpful to prevent overheating and dehydration.  If possible, a swim in the lake can be a perfect escape from the heat – for you and your pet alike.


Written by: Dr. Suzanne Lyons DVM and Practice Owner of Bloor Animal Hospital: 2387 Bloor St West 416-767-5817

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