It is that time of year again when the heat and humidity of summer can create dangerous conditions for dogs and cats. Heat stroke develops when pets are exposed to hot conditions for excessive periods of time. The actual time required to cause heat stroke is dependent on many factors including exposure to direct sunlight, ambient temperature, humidity, a pet’s general physical condition and type of fur/coat. Knowing what to look for and how to prevent this emergency can prove very valuable. Avoid humid summer days in which the temperature is near or greater than 90 degrees along with ample sunshine. If your pets need to be outside for significant periods of time ensure they have access to plenty of fresh, cool water. Dogs will benefit from access to plenty of shade and being cooled off with water from a garden hose, kiddie pool, sprinkler, etc.. Also, monitor for signs of impending heat stroke. Signs to monitor for may include: excessive panting, lethargy, weakness, or lagging behind when on a walk/run. If these signs are noted, stop your pet’s activities and seek an air conditioned environment with plenty of drinking water available. If this is not an option, seek shade first and then attempt to cool off your pet by soaking them with water. The water does not and probably should not be ice cold water. If you have access to a limited amount of water (water bottle for example), soak the feet first and then the belly and armpit areas. If your pet’s symptoms do not resolve quickly then start to seek veterinary care quickly. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires aggressive care to help limit the complications that develop as a result of the condition. As with most conditions, avoidance is best. Be mindful of the conditions that can cause heat stroke, and know how to respond if you suspect you pet is becoming over heated.