Keeping your pets cool in the heat | Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital

Keeping your pets cool in the heat

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dog being cooled



Heat stroke (hyperthermia)

Heat stroke or hyperthermia is a really serious, potentially fatal condition that should be taken really seriously. The body is made to run at a safe temperature and if overheats the internal organs basically cook. Often the effects of excessive heat exposure aren't obvious immediately.

For example:

  1. You may have taken your dog for a walk and a few hours later they become unwell.
  2. It may have been a really hot day and that night or the next day your rabbit stops eating. 

Each year we have numerous animals presented to us with heat stroke. Most survive but sometimes there has been too much damage done and there's nothing we can do. 

Signs of heat stroke

If your pet shows any of these signs they may have heat stroke and should be seen immediately:

  • depression
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • wobbly legs
  • lethargy
  • excessive panting
  • noisy breathing

Here are a few tips to keep your pets comfortable and safe in the heat

  • Keep your pets indoors out of the heat if possible.
  • Don't exercise your dog on a hot day. If you do walk them do it before the sun rises in the morning or in the evening after it has gone down.  
  • If they are outside make sure they can lay around in the shade & hose down surfaces to keep them cool.
  • Create a mist with a water spray and wet the area they are in so there is some evaporative cooling. Provide them with a swimming pool to wade in.
  • Provide plenty of fresh clean cool drinking water, this is really important because they dogs can't sweat and rely on panting to cool down. If they are dehydrated they will retain heat.
  • If it does get really hot hose them down to cool them off. You can also get them to lay on wet towels.
  • If you have rabbits move them inside- don't leave them out in a hutch or they'll cook.
  • Keep cats indoors. 

Special cases

The following animals are at high risk of developing heat stroke because they can't expel their heat properly. If you have one of these animals it is really important that you monitor your pets closely on a hot day and I would recommend keeping them in a air conditioned space inside:

  1. brachycephalic (squashed face ) breeds such as English bulldogs, Aussie Bulldogs, pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Boxers
  2. animals with congestive heart failure
  3. animals with airway disease, for example canine cough. 

Get helpful hints and tips to help you care for your family pet