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BellaOnline's Animal Life Editor

How to Protect Animals from Heat Stroke

The sight of an animal sitting inside a car usually horrifies pet advocators. The concern derives from the knowledge that animals are prone to suffer from heat stroke, which oftentimes results in a slow and painful death.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke sets in when a warm-blooded animal is no longer able to self-regulate its body temperature due to environmental exposure. This should not be confused with a fever due to illness. The most popular pets, such as dogs and cats, do not have the ability to sweat, like humans. Therefore, they rely heavily on panting. When the environmental temperature exceeds what the animal is able to process, it can cause hyperthermia, or the inability to cool down, and typically starts to occur when the animal's body temperature reaches 104F (40C). When an animal experiences heat stroke, organs start shutting down and can result in long-term health problems or death.

The most common contributor to heat stroke is leaving an animal in a car during warm weather months. It is common for cars to exceed an internal temperature of 120F (49C). Many believe that cracking a window is sufficient to prevent heat stroke. This is an inaccurate assumption. A crack in one window allows more hot air to filter into the vehicle and circulates the heat inside. This can actually make the car warmer, rather than cool it down.

What are the Symptoms?If any of those symptoms are present it is extremely important to seek out the assistance of a veterinarian immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms abate, as heat stroke attacks organs, there are no means of accurately assessing if the animal is out of harm's way. Do not wait for an appointment time. If the regular family veterinarian is unavailable, it is important to seek out the services of animal emergency hospital. Be sure to inform the clinic that heat stroke is suspected.


The ideal solution is to leave the animal at home, inside a temperature-controlled environment. In other words, avoid bringing animals along to run errands. However, in the event that animal travel is unavoidable, here are some extra precautions to take.Above all, think logically. Remember, these animals are encased in glass and metal, both of which magnify and conduct heat. Think about the needs of the animal, just as one would consider the needs of a child.

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