While your pet can feel warm at any time, it is particularly common during the summer months for our furry companions to risk overheating. Today our Sacramento vets share the signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats as well as how to prevent or treat this potentially serious condition.
Heatstroke in Dogs & Cats
Heatstroke usually occurs in the summer months when it is hot and your pet's core body temperature rises above normal at a faster rate than their body can cool itself down. This could make their entire body take an inflammatory response, which can result in organ failure and even be fatal.
Other factors that can cause heatstroke in cats and dogs include excessive exercise, not enough shade, dehydration, a warm/ humid environment without enough circulation, such as being in an unventilated car or being left outside on a hot day.
The following factors could increase your pet's risk of heatstroke:
- Thick fur/coat
- Age (young or old pets)
- Flat-faced pets (Himalayan cats, Persian cats, bulldogs, Scottish terriers, etc.)
If you believe your pet has heatstroke it is considered an emergency that requires immediate veterinary care.
Common Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs & Cats
There are many typical signs in dogs and cats that are experiencing heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which are:
- Panting (most often seen in dogs but, can occur in cats with heatstroke)
- No or little urine
- Delirium/mental confusion
- Red or pale gums
- Muscle tremors
- Red tongue
- Heart rate increase
- Distressed breathing
- Rapid breathing
If your dog or cat begins to show any of the above symptoms you should contact your vet immeidately as heatstroke is a very serious condition that requires urgent care.
How To Care For a Dog or Cat Experiencing Heatstroke
Here are some things that you can do at home or on the way to the veterinary office to help decrease your pets temperature:
- First, remove them from the hot environment as fast as you can.
- Place cool (not cold) water or a cool damp cloth on their bodies to help cool them down. Don't use ice packs, ice cubes or cold water as it can make their condition worse.
- Aim a fan at them to implement evaporative cooling.
- Keep the air conditioner on the entire time you are in the car taking them to the vet.
- Your pet has to be cooled down gradually, trying to cool your cat or dog too quickly will only make the situation worse, never use ice or ice-cold water.
Call your vet to inform them of your emergency and to let them know you are on your way, they may even provide you with further instructions on how to help your pet, before you get to the animal hospital.
Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs & Cats
The prevention of heatstroke will always be a better solution as opposed to treating this serious conditions. Some ways that you can help prevent it from happens are:
- Make sure your pet always has access to shade and fresh drinking water, especially when they are outside in the heat.
- Keep your pet inside on hot days and only bring them outside for bathroom breaks.
- Do not leave your pet in a car it can kill them, even on a mild day the temperature in a vehicle can rise very rapidly.
- Keep your pet off of hot surfaces with little or no shade such as asphalt, concrete, and stone.
- Keep a water area in the shade such as a kiddie pool or sprinkler so your dog can cool themselves off and have fun while they are outside.
- Alway's keep inside areas well ventilated with fans or/ and air conditioning.
- Do not take your pet outside for exercise during the day when it is hot out, wait for the evening time when the air is cooler.