Heat stroke is one of the most common seen conditions in veterinary emergency and the catastrophic effects of the condition are often fatal despite best efforts by veterinarians. The good news is that it also one of the most easily preventable.
Dogs and cats can suffer from heat stoke / heat stress and it is not only caused by dehydration. Whilst us humans have physical access to running cold water, can crank up the air-conditioning or jump into the pool to escape the heat, dogs and cats only have means to cool down by panting, drinking water or getting into shade. Take away one of these abilities to cool down and in high temperatures, heat stroke is inevitable.
We want to help you stay out of the Emergency Department! Here are our tips to help keep your pet cool this summer.
- Don’t exercise your dog in the heat of the day.
Remember that dogs can’t sweat – they can only pant to regulate their body heat. Keep your walks and runs to first thing in the morning or in the evening when the weather cools down.
- Don’t ever leave your pet in the car.
Even parked in the shade, temperatures inside your car can quickly reach 50 to 60 degrees.
When you’re driving, check your pet’s area is well-ventilated. Whether you use open windows or air-conditioning to regulate your own temperature, check that the cooler air is reaching the area of the car your pet is in.
- Keep your pet’s area at home cool.
Shade isn’t always enough as paving can get extremely hot even under cover. Put a shallow child’s water pool (one that’s a safe size for a small dog to easily get out of) so your dog can get in the water to cool down.
- Keep an eye on your guinea pigs, rabbits and birds.
Small pets can really suffer from the heat, especially in outdoor enclosures. Check they have enough breeze or cross-ventilation, or take them inside your house if it’s really hot. You can also place a shallow tray filled with water, or something they won’t eat soaked in water in an area of their enclosure – but it must be shallow to avoid drowning risk.
- Give your pet at least two water bowls, full of fresh water.
This means there’s a back-up option if one water bowl gets tipped over or emptied.
- Put ice blocks in your dog’s water bowl.
You can also freeze a large (2L) iceblock to give them in addition to plenty of drinking water.
- Be prepared if you are planning to be out for the day.
Have an arrangement with your neighbours or friends to check on your pet or even move your pet into an air-conditioned area if the weather gets extremely hot.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Excessive panting (sometimes rasping sounds)
- Tongue protruding excessively out of mouth (back of throat can been seen)
- Thick saliva (sometimes white & frothy foam around lips)
- Restless behavior as your cat tries to find a cool spot
- Panting, sweaty feet, drooling, excessive grooming in an effort to cool off
- Both cats & dogs
- Increased heart rate
- Deep red or purple/red gums
- Depression or lethargic
- Unable / unwillingness to walk
- Loss of appetite
Things to remember:
- Cats don’t normally pant. A panting cat is in trouble. In spite of their reputation as desert animals, cats do not tolerate heat any better than people. Cats only pant or sweat through their foot pads in order to get rid of excess heat. As the body temperature rises, the cat will suffer heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke. If the body temperature is not brought down quickly, serious organ damage or death could result.
- Brachycephalic breeds (snub nose breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Persians) are more susceptible to overheating.
- It isn’t just hot cars in the summer that causes heat stroke. Any dog that is active on a warm day may succumb to heat stroke if they become dehydrated. Pets in cage dryers without monitoring or water can get heat stroke.
- Never tie your dog up on a chain. Even with shading, the area of shade might not be sufficient for your dog or the sun might move during the day. Kennels can also draw in a lot of heat and may increase in temperature inside.
- Just because your car is nice and cool when you leave, it can heat up rapidly once the air conditioner is off. Opening a window is never enough. Never leave your pets in the car.
First aid for heat stroke:
- Run cool not cold water onto a large towel & wrap your pet
- Poor cool water on toes & anus
- Get your pet to a Vet ASAP. Don't delay. Even if your pet has seemed to recover, a check up is vital as organ damage may have been caused
- If possible take a rectal temperature -> monitor the temperature until the it reaches 1 degree above normal & remove the wet towel at this point.
- Dogs: 37.9-38.9 degrees Celsius
- Cats: 38-39.1 degrees Celsius
***Do not over cool your pet. You could send your pet into shock if temperature goes below normal body temperature or if you cool too quickly by using cold water or ice***
Prevention of heat stroke is best of all. Provide shade and plenty of water. Be aware of your pet’s environment, both inside and outside. Everything begins with awareness.
Talk to us today about some of our keep cool products we have in store, including our Chill Out Ice Bone for dogs or our Chill Out Cool Pad for cats.