The Vet Says – Beware Heatstroke in Pets

sunUnless you live in Liverpool or John O’Groats, you may have noticed Summer has finally arrived, and with vengeance. Record temperatures over the weekend look set to continue, and it poses a real threat to your pet’s health. With that in mind here are some tips from Jonathan on keeping your pet cool in the sweltering heat.

With the sudden increase in temperature, it is important to be aware that our pets are at risk of heat stroke (hyperthermia). We see this most commonly in dogs but rabbits and guinea pigs kept outside in hutches or in sheds are also at risk. Cats are less susceptible to the effects of heat as they will adapt their lifestyle accordingly. However, I have seen cases in cats where owners had shut them in a conservatory and they had no ability to escape.

Dogs can overheat in a number of ways. The most obvious is when they are left in cars in the hot weather. They will very rapidly overheat and leaving a window open a couple of centimetres DOES NOT HELP. It never ceases to amaze me that despite all the hard work by the RSPCA to highlight the risks of leaving your dog in the car, it still happens. If owners do not believe how dangerous it is to leave their dog in a car for even a few minutes, I invite them to park their car on a hot day, put on a nice thick coat (because that is what their furry friend is wearing) and see how long they can sit comfortably in it with the window open a couple of centimetres.

Conservatories are similarly as dangerous. However, the commonest reason I see dogs suffering from heatstroke is that owners will insist on taking their dogs out for a walk despite the hot weather. And in some cases still throw a ball for them to chase! Please be sensible and only walk your dog when it is cool very early in the morning or late at night. If in doubt- do not walk them because animals can die of heatstroke.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Rapid Panting and Drooling
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red and Pale Gums
  • Thick Sticky Saliva
  • Hyper ventilation (gasping for air)
  • Glossy eyes •Fever (103 +)
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhoea

Some breeds are more susceptible than others to heat stroke, particularly short-nosed breeds like Pugs, Boxers and Bulldogs. Of course if you’re concerned call us for advice on 01268 533636.