Health | 1 Min Read

A not so hot topic: Heatstroke

The animal emergency room is by far the busiest during the summer months. Dogs cannot cool themselves as efficiently as people so how can you keep your pup comfortable and safe in summer?

Dogs don’t sweat like we do. While we sweat through the pores in our skin, most of a dog’s sweat glands are found on their footpads. Dogs keep cool by panting but this is not as efficient as sweating in people. 

Considering how hot our summers are, and unfortunately becoming hotter year on year, heatstroke can develop rapidly, so it’s important that you are aware of the early signs of a hot pet:

  • Lying on cool surfaces or seeking shade
  • Panting (a panting cat needs urgent veterinary attention)
  • Increased drinking
  • Lethargy
  • Agitation
  • Increased grooming in cats
  • Wet footprints from sweating

As their body temperature increases, the more serious signs of heatstroke begin to appear:

  • Heavy panting
  • Confusion
  • Brick red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

Heatstroke can cause multiple organ damage and can be fatal if not treated promptly. If you notice any of the above signs in your pet, take them to your vet immediately. Never cool your pet down too rapidly as this can be dangerous. Instead, place damp towels over them, offer them a drink of water and ensure that you keep the windows down and air-conditioning on during the car trip.

Preventing heatstroke

Thankfully, heatstroke is mostly preventable. By following the Dr Lisa approved tips, you can minimise the risk of heatstroke. 

  • Always provide clean water
  • Ice cubes in water on hot days
  • Frozen water bottles to lie on
  • No exercise during the heat of the day
  • Leave pets inside the cool house on hot days
  • Some long haired dogs benefit from short hair cuts in summer
  • Avoid obesity
  • NEVER leave your pet in the car on a warm day – they can die within minutes

Remember that all animals can develop heatstroke, not just dogs. Cats, rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly prone to overheating so follow the above advice for them too.