The days are getting hotter and we’ve already seen our first heatwaves here in Mackay. It’s a good time to remind ourselves that our pets may be feeling the heat even more than we are.
Dogs and cats are more prone to heatstroke than we are because they are unable to cool off by sweating. They regulate their temperature by panting which essentially exchanges the hot air inside their bodies with the cooler air outside. Unfortunately when it’s really hot outside this system is less effective for the animal and there’s a greater risk of heat stroke.
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia that affects all the organs in the body with inflammation and is a very serious and life-threatening condition.
What are the signs?
- Excessive and constant panting
What to do if you suspect heat stroke?
- Cool pet immediately. Pour cool water over the pet or drape them with a cold towel. (NEVER use icy water). One study showed a mortality rate of 49% for dogs that were not cooled by their owners versus 19% for those that were cooled before being transported to their veterinarian.
- Establish airflow over the body. Drive to the vets with windows down or aircon vents towards animal to help with ‘evaporative cooling’.
- Offer water to drink. Do NOT force water into the mouth.
- Call us as soon as possible! Medical therapy is almost always required with any heat-stressed animal.
How to avoid heat stroke
- Avoid exercising in the hot part of the day (especially brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs & pugs).
- NEVER leave an animal alone in a car. Temperatures can rise to life-threatening levels in as little as 10 minutes. Always take your animal with you.
- Always ensure animals have access to fresh, clean water. If going out for the day, collapsible water dishes are available to provide your pet with water. Remember if you get thirsty throughout the day so does your pet.
- Provide adequate shade.
Cats and dogs rely on us to provide them with a safe environment and in the hotter months, it’s really important for us to be extra vigilant when it comes to overheating!