Temperatures are set to soar in Eastern Australia over the next few days, and as pet owners its important that you are aware of the risk of heat stress in your pets.
Certain breeds, especially those with long coats and short snouts (brachycephalics, such as bulldogs, pugs and persians) are particularly prone to heat stress, but all breeds and coat lengths may be affected, especially during heat waves!
It is important to implement measures to keep your pet cool on hot days, as heatstroke can be life threatening.
HOW TO AVOID HEAT STRESS
Unlike humans, who are able to sweat to lose heat, dogs and cats cannot regulate their temperature in this way and rely mainly on panting and external cooling to lose heat from their bodies. This limits their ability to thermoregulate, which is why pet owners need to take action to minimize the risk of heat stress.
Some things you can do include:
- Ensuring your pet has access to shade when outside, and the freedom to move into shaded areas;
- Ensuring your pet has access to fresh drinking water inside and outside the house (ensure they are placed in a shady spot if outside and consider placing an extra bowl or two if you are leaving the house);
- Avoiding excessive exercise / avoiding exercise during the hot parts of the day / avoiding exercise entirely on very hot days;
- Not leaving pets in the car, even with the windows open.
SIGNS OF HEAT STRESS IN YOUR PET
Being aware of signs of heatstroke may allow you to act quickly and prevent internal organ damage. These signs may include:
- Excessive panting progressing to breathing distress;
- Drooling, salivation;
- Very red or very pale gums;
- Vomiting and/or or diarrhea;
- Restlessness, delirium, agitation;
- Collapse / comatose.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR PET HAS HEAT STRESS
If you are concerned that your pet is suffering from heat stress, remove your pet from the hot environment, wrap him or her in a wet towel or spray him or her with cool water onto the skin and fan to maximize heat loss and take him into your nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.