After a long, cold winter, you're probably ready to head out for some fun in the sun. But, it may upset you if your pet gets heatstroke. Learn about the common signs of heatstroke and take preventative measures to keep your pet cool during the summer days.
Heatstroke, also known as overheating or heat exhaustion, occurs when your pet's body temperature rises above normal to 40-41°C. Dogs and cats have few sweat glands and cannot cool down by sweating like humans, so they overheat more easily.
Pets cool off primarily by panting, as evaporation of moisture from the oral cavity helps lower their body temperature. Heatstroke most commonly occurs when pets are left outside on hot days, but it can also occur if:
- There was high humidity, even if the temperature was lower
- Your pet does not take breaks from play until he has calmed down
- Your pet does not have enough access to water in hot temperatures
- Your pet is left indoors on a hot day with no ventilation or air conditioning
- Your pet is left inside the car, even if it's not hot outside
Heatstroke is a serious health condition that can cause death if the warning signs are not recognized right away.
What are the signs of heatstroke in pets?
While you're enjoying playing with your dog, watch him closely for signs of overheating, such as:
- excessive panting
- Excessive salivation
- difficulty breathing
- Diarrhea with or without blood
- general weakness
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking
- convulsive seizures
Act immediately if your pet shows any of these signs. Once your pet begins to overheat, the condition progresses quickly.
Are some animals more susceptible to heatstroke than others?
Any animal can develop heatstroke, but short-headed breeds such as the bull dog and pug are more at risk because they are less efficient at expelling heat through panting. Overweight, elderly pets and those with heart and lung disease also have an increased risk.
These pets should never be left outside in the heat and should be kept indoors with air conditioning and good ventilation during the summer.
If your pet's condition does not improve within 10 minutes, take her to the nearest veterinarian immediately for advanced support, such as intravenous fluids, maintenance of blood pressure, or Medicines other.
Is there a difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke?
In general, heat exhaustion is a milder type of heatstroke. Body temperature is no higher than 40°C, and your pet is still able to walk, pant and search for water sources, as well as take frequent breaks.
In heatstroke, the body temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius. You will see warning signs like:
- Excessive panting with no break in between
- and collapse
- and dark red gums
- And a glassy look in their eyes
- And your pet may seem unresponsive to you.
A rectal thermometer is the only way to get an accurate assessment of your pet's body temperature. You can use an old-fashioned glass thermometer--or a digital thermometer you may have available for human use--and it can also be used as a rectal thermometer on a pet.
Both scenarios require immediate care on your part!
What should I do if my pet shows signs of heatstroke?
- Move your pet to a cool, shaded area or an air-conditioned environment.
- Start keeping track of when you started the treatment and cooling measures - this will be important information for your vet.
- Place a wet towel under your pet for him to lie on. Never apply ice or an ice pack directly to or under your pet's skin.
- If the animal is conscious and alert, offer small amounts of lukewarm water every few minutes. Do not attempt to force a pet who is not awake and not alert to drink water. Do not use cold water. This can lower your body temperature very quickly, which is dangerous.
- Take your pet's temperature with a rectal - glass type thermometer or use a digital rectal thermometer on your pet. Use a lubricant to facilitate the insertion of the thermometer, such as petroleum jelly or saliva if you don't have anything else on hand, before inserting it into the rectum.
- If the temperature is above 40 degrees Celsius, begin to cool your pet by spraying lukewarm - not cold - water on its body, concentrating on the paws and behind the ears, as well as on the back and on the belly. You can also place wet towels over these areas if you don't have a hose outlet, but you should remove and replace them frequently, as they trap heat and keep it on your pet's body.
- If you have a fan, place it near your pet. This will aid in evaporative cooling.
- Now is the time to start planning to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. If you started cooling procedures, mark when you started.
- Take your pet's body temperature every 30 to 60 seconds - as soon as the temperature drops below 39.5°C, stop the cooling procedures. Further cooling may cause the body temperature to drop too low. Note the time for the temperature drop and stop the cooling procedure.
- You should be on your way to the vet at this point. It's ideal if you can pre-cool your car before putting your pet inside, and also call ahead so the hospital knows you're on your way.
There are times when the ability to administer first aid is not possible, or it will delay life-saving treatment for your pet. In these circumstances, you should take your pet to the vet or the nearest emergency clinic right away.
Will my dog or cat survive heatstroke?
Once your pet arrives at the hospital, they will immediately assess body temperature and do blood work to look at how your pet's organ function may be affected.
They will also start giving fluids and continue cooling procedures if needed. The prognosis for survival depends on how high the temperature was, how long it had been, and your pet's physical condition prior to the heat illness. Older and overweight animals have a lower chance of survival, as do young animals or those with an underlying disease.
Most healthy pets recover quickly if treated promptly. If treatment is delayed, permanent organ damage and even death can occur. The key to preventing this tragedy is to prepare well, to know what symptoms to look out for, and to intervene quickly.
- HOW CAN I PREVENT HEATSTROKE IN MY PET?
- How to Treat Your Pet's Heat Exhaustion or Heatstroke
- Heatstroke in dogs and cats