Heat Stress can be Fatal - Articles of Interest Common Conditions - Pet Care Information from GreenCross Vets Australia
Login Register Now
Common Conditions - Articles of Interest - Heat Stress can be Fatal

Heat Stress can be Fatal

Heat Stress can be fatal, unlike humans, most animals can’t sweat to reduce body heat. Instead, dogs and cats lose heat by panting but there is a limit as to how much they can cool themselves down.
No matter how healthy you think your pet is, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs etc. of all shapes, sizes and age can be affected by Heat Stress (or heat stroke) however, dogs with short noses, such as the bulldog, pug and boxer are particularly at risk.
Heat Stress occurs when animals are confined in hot environments, often when locked in cars where the temperature can rise to lethal levels very quickly and in many circumstances it is life threatening.
Modifying your exercise or walking routine should be considered in the warmer months also.  Jogging or walking early in the morning or late in the evening is recommend as the temperatures are definitely cooler at these times.
Ensure that your pet has adequate shade in their backyard and refrain from tethering a dog to something that can prevent them from seeking different areas of the yard throughout the day.

Signs that your pet could be suffering from heat stress:

  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red gums and tongue which turn to blue
  • Salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Anxious pacing, uncoordinated, stumbling
  • Seizures or strange behaviour
  • Collapse
  • Coma
Heat Stress can affect pets so quickly that they can become comatose within a very short timeframe of being exposed to the heat and direct sun.
If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stress you should contact your local Greencross Vet for advice immediately.  In the meantime, there are a few techniques that you can do to keep your pet quiet and try to lower their body temperature.

First Aid techniques for Heat Stroke in pets:

  • Soak a towel in cool water, drizzle the water on your pet concentrating on the head, stomach, neck, inner thighs and pads of the feet
  • Wrap your pet in a cool wet towel
  • For larger pets, gentle hosing or bathing with cool water, followed by cool towels applied to the head and stomach
  • You want to cool your pet slowly to avoid hypothermia, which is why it is important to use cool water not iced water

Tips on preventing heat stress in your pet:

  • Ensure that you pet has access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times
  • Modify your exercise routine with your pet to avoid the midday sun
  • NEVER leave a pet in a car even if the windows are open or even if it appears to be an overcast day
  • Remember that all pets can be affected by heat stress but pets with long hair, overweight, older animals and specific breeds are at a higher risk
  • Make sure that outdoor pets have access to lots of shade and prevent tethering them to an object that may not allow them to move freely around their yard. Inside animals also need to have access to lots of fresh water and well ventilated spaces
If it’s too hot for you, then it is too hot for your pet!

Back to Articles of Interest articles.