It’s Up to Owners to Help Pets Avoid Heat-Related Emergencies

Contact: Dawn Noufer, Communications Associate
Texas Veterinary Medical Association

8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, Texas 78754
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633


It’s Up to Owners to Help Pets Avoid Heat-Related Emergencies

AUSTIN—May 23 marks National Heat Awareness Day, a day to recognize the dangers of hot temperatures and the precautions pet owners should take to avoid heat-related emergencies. As summer approaches, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) reminds pet owners that heat-related emergencies like heatstroke are generally avoidable but quickly can turn fatal if not treated properly. In addition to providing pets with access to clean water, avoiding too much exertion during play and never leaving pets outdoors when temperatures are too hot, it’s important for owners to know when to seek veterinary care.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency that occurs when a pet’s normal body mechanisms cannot keep its temperature in a safe range. Severe heatstroke can cause gastrointestinal upset, dysfunction of internal organs, internal bleeding, widespread infection and even death. Signs of a dog beginning to overheat include acting distressed or restless, excessive panting, an overly protruding tongue, a red or swollen tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, collapse and gums that turn blue, purple or bright red.

When temperatures and humidity rise, precautions should be taken to ensure your pets are kept safe. Never leave your pet in a car for any amount of time, even if the windows are open. Avoid running with your dog during peak heat hours, always make water available and encourage frequent breaks during exercise or play. “Remember that your pet is essentially exercising with a winter fur coat on and needs your guidance on when to rest,” said Christine New, DVM, a TVMA member who practices at Emergency Animal Clinic Inc. in Dallas. “If your dog is panting heavily, it is time to take a break and cool off in the shade or indoors with water until the panting stops."

If you suspect your pet may be overheating, move it to a cool area and wet its earflaps and paws with cool water. Offer it water, but do not immerse your dog fully into cold water or an ice bath as this can cause potentially severe complications. If your pet shows signs of overheating, the best step to take is to transport it to your veterinarian or a nearby emergency clinic immediately. “The dangerous problems are not always seen immediately, so it is important to have your pet examined if it has overheated, even if it seems fine,” said Dr. New.

For more information on National Heat Awareness Day and heat-related emergencies, visit For downloadable heat safety brochures, visit

About The Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit