Heatstroke can be fatal very quickly and most people don’t realise this!
It’s so important to make sure your pets are comfortable in hot weather. They need to be able to escape the hot temperature, have access to water and shade at all times.
Never walk your dog between 10am and 7pm during hot weather. Wait until the sun goes down before taking them out. Limit the time spent playing or running around to about 5-10 minutes, as they can over heat very quickly.
Animals can’t sweat like humans to help cool themselves down. Panting does not actually cool them down. Their body temperature will increase as their whole bodies move. It’s like they are doing a huge exercise workout. The more they pant, the hotter they get.
If the environmental temperature increases quickly and animals haven’t had time to acclimatise, they will struggle to cope. It is worsened by increased humidity.
Brachycephalic breeds (short nosed animals like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, shih tzus and persian cats) will always struggle, even if the weather is mild. Their short noses make breathing through their nose difficult so they have to breath through their mouths. It would be like a human having a blocked nose, walking around in a wet suit in warm weather.
What to do
If you find your pet struggling, lethargic and panting heavily during hot weather call your vet for advice immediately. Heat stress, heat exhaustion or heat stroke may be the cause. Cover your pet with towels soaked in tepid water. Never use really cold water as this can shock them even further and cause the capillaries in the skin to constrict and slow cooling time. The use of ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in soaked towels can be placed under them. Try to keep them calm and limit the amount of people trying to help. The more people around, the more worried and anxious your pet may become. If you have surgical spirit, pour it on your pets skin, this evaporates and helps cooling.
Call for advice
Get your pet to your vets as soon as possible and they can administer the appropriate treatment to prevent further suffering. The longer your pet is hyperthermic, the more hidden damage there is. Always call for advice. The best way to prevent this problem is by keeping your pets safe in hot weather.
We run monthly first aid classes at our Kemptown branch which covers heatstroke as one of the most common emergencies seen. Call the practice on 01273 692257 or e-mail Mena, one of our nurses for further details on [email protected]