By Michael Smith, MD
As much of the country is under scorching heat, remember to keep you and your family safe, including your four-legged loved ones.
When the temperature rises above 90 to 95, your body has a tough time staying cool. And since many of us walk around already somewhat dehydrated, this excess heat can be a recipe for disaster, especially for children, the elderly, and your pets.
What’s the big deal with dehydration? Heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which is a life-threatening medical problem. While heat stroke is an extreme that occurs when your body temperature gets to dangerously high levels, in extreme heat kids and the elderly have a particularly tough time keeping their bodies cool. Be especially concerned if someone stops sweating. That means the body’s ability to stay cool is shutting down and they need immediate medical attention.
If your kids have an outdoor event, give them plenty of water – probably more than they want to drink. And you have to start early – a couple of hours before the event – and keep it up. Make sure they take a break at least every 20 minutes. Simple steps can help keep them safe.
Even healthy adults can suffer serious effects of dehydration in this heat, especially if exercising outdoors. Now is the time to take that workout indoors or exercise early in the morning before the heat really kicks in. And know the signs of dehydration, so you can be prepared and take action fast.
And remember, if you’re hot, so is your pet. My first recommendation—keep them inside and limit outdoor time and activity. If they have to be outside for a period of time, make sure to give them plenty of water and keep them in the shade. Dogs and cats can dehydrate just like the rest of us, with potentially devastating effects. So know the warning signs of overheating in pets.