And while this Summer seems a bit later and maybe a little milder than usual, heat stroke is still a very real risk for our pets. Heat stroke is the term we use for Hyperthermia, or heightened body temperature, this occurs when the body’s temperature exceeds its ability to cool its self. For most pets, this is when the body temperature exceeds 41º and usually happens on days where the temperature is high or there are high humidity levels and inadequate water and shade have been provided. Pocket pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs are particularly susceptible to heat stress.
The signs of heat stress can include excessive panting, lethargy, dark coloured tongue/ gums, vomiting and excessive thirst.
Heat stroke is very serious and can result in brain damage or death and can occur very quickly, so it is incredibly important that if you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, you seek veterinary treatment immediately. Where possible, please call ahead to let us know that you’re on your way and get your pet to the clinic as fast as you can safely manage. Ensure your car is cool during transport and begin cooling you pet down by placing wet/ cool towels on them.
As with many aspects of pet health, prevention is key! If you know that the day is expected to be hot, take the following steps to ensure your pet remains cool:
- – Allow your pet to be indoors with you where appropriate
- – Provide cool, clean water
- – Provide adequate shade
- – Have a break from exercising your pet, or opt for an early morning walk and avoid hot concrete, bitumen or sand
- – Avoid the car – cars can be up to 30º hotter than the outside temperature, so even in the shade on a warm day, the temperature could quickly exceed safe levels
- – Pocket pets may benefit from having a cool/ frozen drink bottle of water to lay on/ near
Most of us love the opportunity to get out and enjoy some sunshine and the warmer weather, but it’s important to stop and remember that our pets don’t handle the heat as well as us and to get some good processes in place to avoid heat stroke.