As a responsible pet owner, we need to be aware that overheating during the summer months presents a great risk to our beloved pets. It is easy to assume that their body will cope with the heat the same way ours does but it is simply not the case. This is due to the fact that our pets do not have sweat glands like humans, though a dog and cat's fur can actually be surprisingly helpful in assisting their bodies to handle the heat but not if it is extreme heat. They will also commonly pant to help reduce their body heat.
According to the RSPCA “Heatstroke is a state of hyperthermia (elevated core body temperature above the normal range) resulting in heat injury to tissues. Heatstroke occurs when heat generation exceeds the body’s ability to lose heat.” Heatstroke is not to be taken lightly as your pet’s organs can quickly stop functioning when overheated and can result in death. It is very important to seek help immediately if overheating occurs.
Here are some tips to help prevent your pet from ever being in this situation.
Never leave your pet in a car, even on a milder day because even though the temperature might be only 20C outside, the temperature inside can start to rise very quickly. The sun can also change direction within minutes and a once shady spot can be in direct sunlight adding to the temperature inside the car.
Be mindful of when you walk your dog. Early mornings or late afternoons are a much better option than the middle of the day. The pavement becomes very hot and in turn, they can burn your dog’s paws. The same goes for exercise (unless it is at the beach and they have access to water). Be extra cautious if your dog is older, has pre-existing conditions, or is obese.
Never leave your pet tied up outside if they are in direct sunlight. Instead, provide a shady area such as a bed set up under a shady tree. Always leave a bowl of cold water in the shade and even pop some ice cubes in so it stays cool for longer.
For an indoor pet, do make the house as cool as possible on a hot day. Try to
leave some windows open for ventilation
and place their bed and water bowl in the coolest part of the house.
Keep your pet well-groomed as it helps them considerably when you get rid of excess hair through regular brushing.
Do be aware of any signs that your pet might be suffering from heatstroke. Some of these could include:
Increased panting (more than usual)
Problems with breathing
Bright red tongue
Very red or pale gums
Increased heart rate
Less production of urine
Should you suspect any of the above, take your pet to a cooler environment and spray their coat with cool water but not ice-cold water as it could make the problem worse. Try to get them under a fan to cool their temperature and release the heat but above all else do seek medical help immediately and take them to your vet as it could be a matter of life or death.
Having the knowledge of how easily your pet can be affected by the heat and taking steps to ensure their safety can go a long way in ensuring that you both enjoy a safe happy summer.