According to fact sheets from VetWest animal hospitals heatstroke is a life-threatening conditions for animals, especially dogs. Dogs only perspire around their nose and paws, which isn’t sufficient to cool their body. The most effective means for a dog to cool down is to pant, but if your pet is outside in blistering heat, then none of their natural defences may help your dog cope with the heat.
The RSPCA recommends keeping your pets in cool, shaded areas with good ventilation during summer and hot weather. They also recommend avoiding any exercising with your pet in hot or humid conditions, never to leave an animal in a car or vehicle and always provide multiple sources of fresh water.
Which animals are most at risk of heatstroke?
The RSPCA reports that animals such as squishy and flat-faced dogs and cats, such as pugs, Pekinese and bulldogs, and Persian and Himalayan cats, are at a higher risk of heatstroke. Smaller animals such as mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbit, ferrets and birds are usually kept in cages and can’t get away from the heat on their own. In hot weather keep these animals hutches and cages in shady, well-ventilated areas with lots of fresh drinking water.
How to spot heatstroke
According to RSPCA Pet Insurance, signs of heatstroke include relentless panting, drooling, salivating, restlessness, very red or very pale gums, a bright red tongue, an increased heart rate, vomiting or diarrhoea. Other signs of heatstroke in animals include dizziness, seizures, collapsing, no urine production and confusion.
How to help a pet with heatstroke
- Get your pet to a vet immediately
- Remove your pet from the hot environment
- Apply tepid/cool water to fur and skin (never iced water), then lay them under a fan to increase cooling
How to exercise a pet during in summer
- Build up exercise slowly, especially if you’ve had a sedentary winter
- Swimming is great exercise for older, obese or hairy dogs
- Walk them in the morning before the heat is too high, but always check the pavement isn’t hot, in case your animal’s paws are burnt.
- Ensure cats have a cool spot to sleep
- Indoor cats will enjoy gentle aircon, just be sure it isn’t too cold
- Encourage cats and kitten to engage in play and activities in the early morning or later afternoon when the heat isn’t as bad
- Avoid car trips in hot weather
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