By Pafoua Yang

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The extreme heat can be difficult to deal with for every member of the family, including pets. Viewers sent in questions about how to handle the hot streak, and WCCO’s Pafoua Yang found some answers.

Dr. William Roberts is an M Health Fairview family medicine physician and director of the Family Medicine Dept. Program in sports Medicine at University of Minnesota Medical School. Roberts answered questions about hydration.

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How often should we be hydrating?
When it’s really hot like this you’re going to sweat more, especially if you’re working outside. You have to be careful and you want to make sure you get enough fluid so your urine is looking kind of pale yellow like lemonade. If it’s starting to get darker, you’re not getting quite enough fluid in. Your sweat loss is different than mine, that’s why urine color is the easiest to judge how much fluid you need.

Is there such thing as drinking too much water?
You can drink too much water. We see that in endurance athletes who are competing for long periods of time and see that in people who are drinking too much. What happens is, because of your heat and exercise, it turns on system that helps retain fluid. Instead of running it through the kidney into the bladder, you increase water in vascular system and it ends up diluting sodium. So you get low sodium and it shifts it into the brain and can cause trouble. Make you you’re not drinking too much water. That’s why it’s hard to give a straight recommendation of what you should drink because everyone’s different.

What exactly is causing your body to dehydrate?
If you’re outside doing a physical activity, the body’s mechanism of sweating, to keep you cool kicks in. So, if you don’t replace the sweat loss while you’re active, you become dehydrated.

Can dehydration lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke?
Dehydration doesn’t lead to heat stroke, but it does lead to heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is when your body system is maximally workin to get heat out of your body and you don’t have enough cardiac output to keep going. Cardiac output depends on heart rate and blood volume and your blood volume goes down with dehydration. Heat stroke on other hand, occurs when the body temperature starts to rise. If you’re exercising and that extra heat you make from exercising isn’t used to do your activity, it has to be removed from system. That’s about 75% of heat we generate when we’re using our muscles, it can raise the body temperature fast, especially in hot humid conditions like what we’re seeing now.

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What are some of the warning signs of heat exhaustion?
Dizziness, fatigue, not being able to continue in the heat. You can collapse and fall to the ground. That would usually take an hour or two or three in steady heat. Heat stroke in the wrong condition can occur in 20 to 40 minutes if you’re working hard and not taking breaks. Heat stroke is more likely to occur in hot humid conditions when you can’t get rid of the extra heat. We really depend on evaporation to remove heat from body. When humidity is high you’re not lose heat by evaporation.


Dr. Graham Brayshaw is the director of animal services at the Animal Humane Society (AHS) in Golden Valley. Brayshaw oversees all veterinarians and helps set policy and procedures for general animal, veterinary, and behavioral care in shelters and clinics. Brayshaw answered questions about pets in heat.

When is it too hot to take a pet outside?
There’s no perfect temperatures. The answer is unfortunately almost always going to be ‘it depends.’ It’s the same thing as what is too cold? It depends. I start paying attention when the temperature gets to 70’s, I worry a little bit more in the 80’s and 90’s. There’s not a temperature where it gets too hot you can’t take your pets outside. Even if its 100 they can still go outside to go to bathroom. They can take a nice quick little jaunt out to do what they need to outside. It’s really all about how long they’re out and how hot it is, and how active are they when they’re outside.

What are warning signs of heat exhaustion for dogs?
Pets can have heat exhaustion, they can have heat stroke just like people can. Pets can’t compensate with the heat like we can. We can sweat and evaporate our entire body, dogs can only do it from their pads and tongue, that’s why you see them they’re panting. They aren’t able to compensate with temperature as much and signs can be variable. The big thing I watch for is activity level, they can become lethargic, they can glaze over, eyes don’t focus on things. As it gets more severe, you can see vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, stumbling. And even more severe things you can see seizers, animals can die from heat strokes.

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Are there certain breeds that do better in the heat?
The long snouted labs with the long noses can breathe a little easier in the heat than the adorable smushed face bulldogs. Bulldogs can overheat in less lower temperatures than a lab. Take their coat into account too. Husky’s built for negative 20 degrees are happy outside in the snow and is not going to be happy in 90 degree weather. The weight also is a factor. If a dog is a nice good slim weight, they’re going to handle the heat better than one that’s overweight.

Pafoua Yang