Handling Heat Stroke in Pets

As the hottest months approach, it’s important to be able to recognise signs of heat stress in your pets and to know how to prevent it wherever possible. Certain breeds, such as brachycephalic dogs (those with shorter noses like pugs and bulldogs), are at an increased risk but any dog or cat can suffer heat stroke and knowing the dangers and what to do could save your pet’s life.

What to look out for

Some of the signs of heat stroke in pets are:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Hyperthermia – does your pet feel hot?
  • Drooling, often very thick saliva
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Change in gum colour – they may be bright red, purplish or even pale
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Lethargy or collapse
  • Dizziness – is your pet struggling to walk in a straight line?

What to do

If your pet is suffering from heat stroke, they will need urgent veterinary attention as it can be life-threatening. Importantly- there are steps you can take in those first minutes that can make all the difference. Some of the things you can do are:

  • Hose your pet down with cool water
  • Place a wet towel over them and have the air-conditioning on as you drive
  • Avoid ice cubes and very cold water, as this can cause the capillaries to contract and worsen the problem

How to Prevent Heat Stroke

Prevention is always better than cure, and there are a few simple rules to follow that can help to ensure that your pet stays safe in the summer. These include:

  • Providing shade at all times
  • Walking your dog at the coolest times of day – early morning or in the evening
  • Always having plenty of fresh water available both at home and when you’re out on a walk
  • Avoiding going on an outing to the beach on the hottest days
  • Checking garages and sheds for cats before shutting the doors
  • NEVER leaving a pet in a car or any other small confined space

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Dr Alex Hynes

Dr Alex Hynes

Veterinarian, Author and Educator with an extraordinary passion for animals, life and veterinary work both as the hospital director of one of Australia’s busiest emergency pet hospitals, Animal Emergency Service in Australia, and as an entrepreneur and media personality.

Dr Alex Hynes

Dr Alex Hynes

Veterinarian, Author and Educator with an extraordinary passion for animals, life and veterinary work both as the hospital director of one of Australia’s busiest emergency pet hospitals, Animal Emergency Service in Australia, and as an entrepreneur and media personality.

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