We all know how tiring and uncomfortable it can be sweating it out during a heatwave. Imagine if you were wrapped in a fur coat you couldn’t take off! Keeping your pets cool in the summer months is essential for preventing heatstroke, a dangerous and potentially fatal condition.
“Days with temperatures of over 30 degrees bring an increased risk of heatstroke – and days of 36C or more make it a lot harder for your dog to cool down,” says Murdoch University veterinary expert Dr Katrin Swindells.
“Dogs are so eager to please their owners; they often won’t stop playing until their bodies can’t take any more. Dogs can’t sweat – they can only pant, so they need to find other ways to cool down such as drinking water, seeking shade or laying on a cold surface to manage their body heat.”
(Infographic: Murdoch University – click to enlarge)
Keeping your pet cool
Heatstroke is easily preventable by providing ways for your pet to keep cool and avoiding activity in the middle of the day. The following tips can help make your pet more comfortable:
- Always provide plenty of fresh, cool drinking water
- Don’t leave your pet outside all day. If that is unavoidable, make sure it has access to shady areas and water and check on it regularly.
- Provide ice blocks or a frozen water bottle for your pet to play with.
- Fill a small paddling pool with cool water
- Never leave your pet alone in the car on a hot day
- Walk your pet in the coolness of the early morning or evening especially in very hot days
- Try wetting your pet’s feet and misting water onto its face
- Cool your pet down with dampened towels
Warning signs of heatstroke in pets
Some of the warning signs of heatstroke in pets include:
- Heavy or excessive panting
- Glazed eyes or anxious expression
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin feels much warmer than usual
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of coordination
- Excessive salivation
- A deep red or purple tongue
Dr Swindells says pet owners should monitor their animals for these symptoms, and act quickly.
“If your dog collapses, or is breathing strangely or panting excessively, cool it down by hosing or wetting all over,” she says.
“Spend five minutes at home cooling your dog down, then drive to your vet with your windows open or air-conditioning on.
“If you spend a few minutes cooling your dog at home and then go to your vet, they generally have the best chance of survival, compared to going straight to the vet, or doing nothing to see if the situation improves.”