Looking after Pets in the Heat

14th May 2011Pet CareLeave a comment

Summer is on its way. This means trips to the beach or the local park and plenty of time spent outside for you and your pets to enjoy the sunshine. People love to share many of their summer activities with their pets, especially their dogs. Unfortunately, every summer many beloved pets suffer or even die unnecessarily during extremely hot weather.

Unlike humans, most animals only sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting which makes it harder for them to cool off. Heat exhaustion occurs when the animal’s body temperature exceeds a safe range; which is generally defined as having a rectal temperature of more than 40.5°C (105°F) and this can quickly be reached on a hot sunny day.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

If your pet is showing any of the following signs, he/she may have or be well on the way to heat stroke:

  • Difficulty breathing or excessive panting
  • Bright red tongue and gums
  • Collapse
  • Weakness
  • Hot skin
  • Twitching muscles

What to do in case of heat exhaustion:

  • Remove your pet from the heat immediately
  • Lower your pets body temperature by wrapping him in a wet towel, use cool not freezing cold water so that further shock to the system does not occur
  • Give him ice cubes to lick
  • Give him a fan or air-conditioning to lie in front of
  • If the case is severe, your pet will need to be hospitalised in order to receive intravenous fluids and other necessary medication

Preventing heat exhaustion:

  • Always provide fresh, cool water to keep him/her well hydrated
  • Never leave him / her in a parked car alone. The temperature in cars can quickly reach unbearable levels
  • Always ensure that they have access to a cool place
  • Do not over exercise them on a very hot day
  • If they are spending any length of time outdoors on a hot day, periodically wet them with cool water to keep a level body temperature

Which pets are at greater risk of suffering heat exhaustion?

  • Pets under 6 months of age
  • Pets over 7 years of age if a large breed or over 14 years old if a small breed
  • Overweight pets
  • Overexerted pets
  • Pets with heart disease, breathing problems or poor circulation
  • Pets taking certain types of medications
  • All brachycephalic breeds, characterized by being a pet with a short nose and a wide head. (E.g., Pugs, English bulldogs)
  • Dehydrated or unwell pets
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