27 Nov Avoiding Heatstroke in Pets
The weather is heating up, so it’s important to ensure that the sunny weather is something that your pet can enjoy along with you. Also known as heat stress, heat stroke is a potentially deadly condition that can happen quickly. To get in ahead of heatstroke, you’ll need to know the signs and to have a plan on hand to prevent and treat it if necessary.
Here’s what you need to be looking out for this summer.
How does heatstroke occur?
While the soaring temperatures might increase the risk, heat stroke can happen at any time of year. Humans don’t have thick hair to hold in the heat, and our sweat glands make it much easier for us to lose excess heat and cool down. Your animals only have a few sweat glands in their noses and paws, so they rely mostly on panting when things begin to warm up. When you add a thick coat, it’s easy to see how temperatures can quickly rise.
Too much exercise in the hot weather, not enough ventilation, inadequate shade, and very hot and/or humid conditions can cause an animal to heat up. When a pets’ body is making more heat than it can lose, their core temperature gets too high and can cause tissue damage. That results in heatstroke.
What are the symptoms?
If your pet just doesn’t ‘look right’ and you know they could be overheating, take action immediately. The following signs are common symptoms of heat stroke, and require your urgent attention.
- Excessive panting
- Being restless and agitated
- Very red or very pale gums and tongue
- Increased heart rate
- Distressed breathing
- Signs of confusion
- Dizziness, staggering
- Lethargy, weakness, lying down or collapsing
- Muscle tremors/ seizures
- Little to no urine production
So, what can you do?
Immediately, your focus needs to be on helping your pet to cool down. Don’t use ice or freezing water, as this could make the problem worse. Remove your pet from the hot environment and get them into a cool, shady, well-ventilated place. Wet them down with tepid or cool water, and wetting the area around them can also help. You can fan your pet to maximise the amount of heat they’re able to lose.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency, so your next step is to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. The vet can help by giving cooling treatments, supplemental oxygen, testing their organ functions, putting your pet on a drip (intravenous fluids), and providing ongoing monitoring and treatment.
Stop heat stroke before it happens
The best way to combat heatstroke is to stop it before it happens, by paying attention to your pets’ surroundings as well as the weather. Lots of clean, fresh water for animals to drink at all times will help them keep cool and stay hydrated. Your pet will always need access to a cool space that provides shade and ventilation. Ventilation is especially important as animals rely on panting to cool down, so good air flow is critical.
To avoid overheating, don’t leave your pet in a car or other enclosed space, as temperatures can rise so quickly that even mild days can become very dangerous. The same goes for surfaces that absorb and reflect heat, like sand, asphalt, and concrete. It’s also important to keep pets rested in warmer weather – exercising can boost their internal temperature, putting them at increased risk of heat stroke.
Keeping your pets safe in summer
Heatstroke can strike quicker than you might imagine, and it can be deadly. That’s why it’s so important to help your pets keep cool, and keep an eye on any symptoms that might indicate they are starting to struggle in the heat. If you do notice anything that resembles heatstroke, you should get your pet checked over by the vet – even if it looks like they might be getting better. Your vet can make sure your pet isn’t in any danger, and help them cool down if necessary.
Summer is a great time for everyone, and pets and their people all love getting outdoors into the sunshine. Keep your summer fun safe for your furry friends by helping them to stay cool.