Are your cat's or dog's gums suddenly bright red? Is the animal lethargic? Is she panting excessively, even when the temperature is cooler? These could be signs of heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition, and you should bring your cat or dog to the veterinarian immediately.
Even before bringing your animal to the veterinarian, your immediate goal is to cool the animal down. Place the animal in tub of cool water (not cold), wrap her in cool, wet towels, ice-packs, or simply use the hose to bring down body temperature. Take your animal immediately to the veterinarian in an air-conditioned car.
Never leave companion animals outside or in enclosures on hot days, and provide cold, fresh water at all times. Dogs, cats, rabbits, and all other animals are all susceptible to heat stroke.
Never leave your dog or cat unattended in a parked car. If you see a dog or cat in a parked car, enter the closest store and ask that the owner of the car be paged. If the animal is obviously under duress, immediately call the local police because it's against the law to leave an animal in a car in extreme heat.
In a relatively mild 85-degree day, it takes only 10 minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees-and within 30 minutes, the inside of the car can be a staggering 120 degrees. New Jersey is under an extreme heat wave, where the temperature is reaching 100 and above and cars can get much hotter and quicker.
Leaving car windows open a few inches does not help. Dogs cool down mostly by panting and the car can become an inferno with the addition of hot panting breath. In only a short amount of time a dog with a high body temperature can suffer critical damage to his nervous system, heart, liver and brain, resulting in death.
For more information about Animal Protection League of New Jersey and our programs, please visit www.aplnj.org.