Heatstroke in cats and dogs is common in the warmer months of the year. Heatstroke is very dangerous for dogs and cats, and it occurs when their body temperature rises above their normal temperature, and they are unable to cool themselves down.
A dog’s and cat’s body temperature normally sits between 38-39 degrees, however if their body temperature goes above 40 degreesit increases their risk of heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause seizures, dehydration, organ damage, internal bleeding/blood clotting problems, coma and even death. Heatstroke can be more fatal the longer it lasts, so if you think your dog or cat has heatstroke, try to cool them down and contact your local Willows vet immediately , to give them the best chance of recovery.
Signs of heatstroke to look out for:
Heavy panting or trouble breathing
Little or no energy
Dry or sticky gums
Bright red or pale gums
Low or no energy
Unable to walk or collapsed
If you dog or cat shows any of these signs during the warm weather, contact your Willows vet immediately!
Prevention for dogs
The majority of heatstroke cases in dogs occur during exercise. In the warmer months of the year, think about changing the time of day you take your dog out for their walks. Try to walk them during the cooler parts of the day (morning and late evening). Change the places you walk your dog if it is not shaded, as the shade will keep your dog out of direct sunlight.
Before taking your dog out, check the ground to make sure it isn’t too hot. Dogs paw pad can burn and blaster if the ground is too hot.
Try to encourage supervised water play with your dog in the garden. You can do this by having a doggie paddling pool or water sprayer.
Groom your dog regularly in the warmer months. Pets with a lot of thick fur can struggle to stay cool in the heat, which could result in them getting heatstroke. Just think, we wouldn’t sit in the sun with a fur coat on, so why should your dog?
If your dog loves sitting outside throughout the summer, make sure there is a shaded area for them to sit in to keep cool. If you don’t have any neutral shaded areas, you can make some by putting a gazebo up or hanging a towel over your washing line.
Always provide plenty of cool, fresh drinking water throughout the day for your dog to drink. Your dog will probably want to drink more in the warmth, so you might have to check their bowl more throughout the day than you normally would. You can add ice cubes to the water to ensure it stays cold.
Never leave your dog alone in a car during the warm weather, they will be at high risk of overheating and developing heatstroke. The outcome could be fatal!
If possible, try not to travel with your dog during the warm weather too.
Prevention for cats
Ensure your cat has access to fresh, cool drinking water and shade at all times throughout the day. They might drink more in the heat, so monitor their bowl more frequently. If your cat is an outdoor cat, have a bowl of water in the garden.
Never leave your cat in a hot room or somewhere with poor ventilation! If your cat is indoors, ensure there is good ventilation by opening windows or turning on fans. Close curtains and blinds to stop the direct sunlight coming through the windows.
The most common cause of heat stroke in cats is from them being trapped in hot, poorly ventilated spaces. Make sure you check all sheds, garages, greenhouses, and conservatories before shutting and locking the door as your cat may have followed you in! You should never leave your cat in these rooms for long periods as they can become very hot and have low airflow, in the summer months.
Try to avoid unnecessary travel with your cat during the summer months, as they can become very hot. If you do need to travel with your cat, make sure the airflow is circulating the car and they are as comfortable as possible.
Pets that are overweight, Brachycephalic breeds, pets that have a pre-existing medical conditions, or very young or old pets are at higher risk of getting heatstroke. If your dog matches any of these characteristics, please put precautions in place to prevent them from getting heatstroke!