Heat Stroke In Pets

Well Summer is here!! Its only the first week and here in Queensland we have been sweltering with temperatures reaching 40 degrees and the hottest December days for ten years.

The heat is not only felt by people but our four legged friends feel it too.  During the hot and humid summer days it is always a possibility that our pets may suffer from heat stroke.  Heat stroke is a very serious and life threatening condition that can progress quite quickly.  Heat stroke occurs when your pet starts to overheat and is unable to cool themselves down.  Unlike people, dogs and cats do not sweat, only a little through their foot pads and nose, and they rely on panting to cool themselves down.  Often when the air temperature is high their panting is not efficient enough to cool them down and they can become stressed and suffer from heat stroke.

Some things that make your pet more susceptible to suffering from heat stroke include;
*  Extreme heat and humidity
*  Being locked in a car
*  Exercising in extreme heat or humidity
*  Being confined with no shade or fresh cool drinking water
*  Being confined with no ventilation or air circulation
*  Being confined on hot surfaces like concrete or bitumen
*  Being muzzled
*  Obese pets are more prone to heat stroke
*  Pets with medical conditions, like heart and lung problems
*  Short-nosed breeds like Pugs or British Bulldogs are more susceptible to heat stroke
*  Having a history of heat stroke

Heat stroke is a very serious and life threatening condition. When your pet overheats they struggle to reduce their core body temperature and this can result in irreversible organ damage.

Signs and symptoms of heat stroke include;
*  Rapid panting
*  Staggering or weakness
*  Lethargy
*  Gums and tongue might appear dark or bright red and be sticky or dry
*  Salivating or drooling
*  Vomiting – possibly with blood
*  Rectal temperature will be between 40-43 degrees
*  Diarrhoea – possibly with blood
*  Seizures
*  Coma

Things that you can do to help with heat stress and reduce their core body temperature include.
*  Moving the pet into a cool, shaded place
*  Use cool, not freezing, water to cool them down by putting wet towels on their body, feet and head.
*  Offer small amounts of cool, not freezing water, to drink
*  If you have a fan or air-conditioning this will help in aid in the evaporation
These can also be done in the car, while someone else is driving, on the way to the vet.

If you ever suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke contact your vet immediately.   Getting heat stroke treated immediately is instrumental in survival as it is a very serious condition that can progress extremely quickly.   It is always best that you speak to your vet and get your pet a check up, even if it seems the condition has improved or if it was a mild case.  This is because damage to organs may have occurred and there are still ongoing complications, sometimes life-long, for an animal that has suffered from heat stroke.


Until next time,

Author: Bec

From a very young age Bec has always had a great love and appreciation for all animals. Bec is a qualified Veterinary Nurse and also has a Bachelor in Applied Science Animal Studies with special interest in Wildlife and Recreational Animals. Her studies have been put to good use working in various animal industries including small and large animal veterinary clinics, horse studs and the family cattle property. Horses have played an important part in her life, living on a horse stud and caring for horses throughout breeding, foaling, spelling, racing and retirement. Bec is the proud mum of two gorgeous girls, a beautiful Cocker Spaniel, a cheeky cockatiel, chickens and many horses including a naughty little pony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.