Seniors, Their Pets, And Heat-Related Illness

photo-blog-heat-stroke-pets-part-2-man-with-dogAs seniors becoming increasingly more ill and disabled, it becomes more difficult for them to care for their elderly pets.  Their elderly pets require greater care needs with the development of chronic illness, pain, incontinence, and difficulty getting around. 

Non-medical agencies like AA Care Services can assist the senior citizen to meet the basic care needs of their pets, such as providing and changing food and water, taking dogs for a walk, and grocery shopping to purchase food for the pets.  The Agency Caregiver can meet safety concerns of the senior citizen by accompanying both the senior citizen and the pet on walks.

The Caregiver will ensure that the walks occur during the coolest time of the day, in shaded and even surface areas, and take plenty of water to drink.

Symptoms of heat stress in cats and dogs.

Dogs release heat through their mouth by panting and increased drooling.  When their bodies are becoming overheated their panting will increase with thick sticky saliva, their tongue will be bright red, and there may be vomiting and diarrhea, weakness with staggering gait and sluggishness.

Cats that are experiencing heat stress will also pant with drooling, and may even groom themselves in an effort to cool off.  You may also witness restless behavior as your cat tries to find a cool spot. In a shady cool area cats may lay completely stretched out with paws exposed photo-blog-heat-stroke-pets-part-2-cat-layingattempting to cool off.  When your cat is experiencing dangerous heat exhaustion symptoms you may see redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, lethargy, rapid pulse and breathing, and stumbling gait.

If untreated the pet will collapse, may experience internal organ damage have seizures and ultimately lapse into a coma or die.  Just like in humans a temperature of 105 or greater can cause death.


Treatment of heat exhaustion in cats and dogs:

If your pet is in a critical state, unconscious, immediately drive them to your veterinarian, and en route place ice packs on their belly, neck, and head.

If your pet is conscious, move your pet to a cool shady area, or indoors with air conditioning. Try to lower your pet’s body temperature by placing them in a tub with cool water (not cold) as you could cause hypothermia. Be careful not to get water in their nose or mouth. You can apply ice or bags of frozen vegetables to the head, neck, belly, and between the legs. Offer the pet cold water to drink, and let them drink as much as they want.  Then take your pet to the veterinarian, as they may need further intravenous hydration and medication.

Awareness of the causes of heat related illness can save your life, and your pets!

Want to find out more?

Best Friends Animal Society
Helping Seniors Keep Their Pets

Heat Stroke in Cats

San Antonio Humane Society
Summer is here – Heat related illness

The Whole Dog Journal
Prevent Your Dog From Suffering Heat Stress This Summer

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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