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Beware heatstroke in pets

Monday, June 05, 2017

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke seek veterinary advice as a matter of urgency.

Cats and dogs are not great at regulating their temperature as they only have sweat glands in their paws and around their nose. This can lead to overheating and heat stroke on hot days.

Make sure they have cook shaded areas to relax in and plenty of fresh cool water available. Keep your house cool and NEVER LEAVE THEM IN A HOT CAR. It can take as little as 15 minutes for a dog to die in a hot car. 

Always have water with you when you take them out, and try to walk dogs when it's cooler - either early in the morning or later on in the day. Bear in mind that pavements can become unbearably hot and burn their paws.

Signs of heat stroke in cats and dogs

  • Fast and heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Dark-coloured (red or purple) gums or tongue
  • Excessive thirst
  • Very high body temperature
  • Weakness, unsteady or collapse
  • Seizures or unconsciousness

All cats and dogs can suffer from heat stroke, however, it's much more common in dogs. If your dog is overweight or a flat-faced breed (e.g. French Bulldog, Pug, English Bulldog etc) they are particularly susceptible to overheating. 

There are a number of possible reasons why we are less likely to see cats with heat stroke: they are generally smaller and more agile than dogs and find it easier to search out cool places to sleep, they don't go for walks with humans, they don't chase balls and they don't tend to get left in cars. 

How to cool your pet down

If your pet is displaying signs of heat stroke, move them to a shaded area and call your vet urgently.

NEVER immerse your pet in very cold water as this can lead to shock. 

The best way to cool your pet is by temporarily placing cool wet towels across their body and/or positioning them next to a fan. 

Allow your pet small amounts of water to drink and continue to cool them until their breathing starts to settle. Wet towels should not be left on for more than 10 to 15 minutes, otherwise they can start to heat them up rather than cool them down. 

Take them to the vet immediately for further treatment. Please do not, under any circumstances, leave your pet unattended in a car during hot days.


Linda Stubbs commented on 08-Jun-2017 08:53 PM
What about cats!!! Hi Linda, thanks very much for your comment - we have updated the post - cats and dogs suffer in much the same way, however we rarely see heat stroke in cats, they are much better at avoiding it. Please see updated post.

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