LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - When temperatures soar, you hear the warnings about staying hydrated and cool to prevent heat illnesses. Just as people are at risk, so are our pets.
For the VanGossen family in Lake Charles, Boomer, Cali and Kit Kat are not just animals.
"We just enjoy them," said Barbara, "they're a big part of our lives. They bring a lot of joy."
The newly added kitten stays indoors, but the family's lab and boxer spend their days outside.
"We have a dog yard basically for them to do what they want," said Barbara, "they'll kind of dig in the dirt to get cool and then they also have their kennel to lay in."
The VanGossen dogs also have shade, access to a covered area with a fan and plenty of water.
When those elements are not around, veterinarian Jae Chang with Farr Veterinary Hospital says heat stroke quickly becomes a risk.
"They will have panting issues and be very lethargic and some of the signs that owners will see at home will be vomiting and just not doing well," he said.
Animals with short muzzles, like pugs, bulldogs and cats are more susceptible to heat stroke.
Dr. Chang says another sign of heat illness is in the animal's gums. "They will be bluish or gray instead of a light pink," he said.
If you start to notice the signs of heat illness for your dog or cat, the best thing to do is immediately get them indoors. Next, fill up a fresh bowl of water, but do not use any ice. The goal is to get the animal's core body temperature cooled down slowly.
"Soak their whole body with some cold water and then go ahead and contact your vet immediately or take them into the vet immediately," said Chang.
The vet can see what is going on inside the animal, which is serious with heat stroke or hyperthermia.
"We go ahead and put them on some oxygen and try to get the core body temperature down," said Chang, "but not too rapidly and we get them on some IV fluids."
Pets can enjoy the summer sun, but need extra precautions. Walk early in the morning or late in the evening - through grass or dirt - not on hot pavement.
A good cool down should follow high energy activities in the heat.
"We will spray them down with the hose, which they love, and you'll see a whole new burst of energy when you do that," said Barbara.